Sept 29, 2017: Update on Ryerson CSR Institute multistakeholder work in support of Human Rights Defenders (HRDs)
On September 29, 2017, the Ryerson CSR Institute initiated an exploratory discussion via teleconference concerning possible multistakeholder support for Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) -- those who speak out and promote human rights, and too often experience threats of violence or worst for being human rights defenders. The following is a brief description of that September 29, 2017 teleconference discussion, which attracted more than 30 government, private sector and civil society participants.
There was first an opening "setting the scenes" description of work and activity pertaining to support of HRDs that addressed:
(1) the importance of HRD activity as part of broader government duties to protect and business responsibilities to respect human rights, as reflected in the UN work in this area, and the value of government, private sector and civil society support for the work of HRDs;
(2) recognition that businesses, civil society organizations and governments share a common interest in promoting the rule of law, transparency, due process, and non-violence -- foundational underlying tenets for support of HRDs -- and that each has unique roles and capabilities in terms of support of the work of HRDs;
(3) the important connection of HRDs to the human rights responsibilities of business enunciated in the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Reporting to the group on a discussion that took place earlier on Friday, September 29 with Rachel Davis of SHIFT, there is a tension between on the one hand the desire of businesses to engage with stakeholders concerning their human rights due diligence activities, and on the other hand, the desire of businesses to avoid putting stakeholders (including HRDs) at risk by engaging with them. Secondly, businesses are in a position to leverage their influence to have a broader impact on particular issues (such as support of HRDs), and some have done so (see below). With any particular HRD issue and situation, it will be important to identify the right interlocutor (e.g., community, government representative, government, NGO) to take on particular roles in support of HRDs;
(5) the fact that Global Affairs Canada has now published "Voices at Risk" (Guidelines on Recognizing and Supporting Human Rights Defenders) to provide practical advice re: HRD support for officials at Canadian missions abroad and at Headquarters;
(6) the fact that the multistakeholder Canadian Centre for Excellence in CSR for the Extractive Sector will be developing guidance in the area of HRD support for the extractive sector. Early discussions suggest the the work will focus on "skills and sensitivities" concerning business interactions with HRDs.
Following this, there was a description and discussion of the federal "Voices at Risk" Guidelines on Recognizing and Supporting Human Rights Defenders, provided by one of the authors of the "Voices at Risk" document. The document was provided as an example of tools that can be created to support the work of HRDs. The main principle is “Do no harm”: the document stresses the importance of adopting a collaborative approach – consultations are necessary to ensure the government is not worsening the situation or adding an element of risk. Any use of the document in other contexts would necessitate a review to ensure its applicability.
Next, there was an open discussion of possible multistakeholder work that could be undertaken in this area. Building on the interest expressed by those participating in the teleconference, there was agreement that the next step will be a multistakeholder workshop to further explore the topic of support for HRDs, facilitated by the Ryerson CSR Institute. Officials from Global Affairs Canada confirmed that they will provide financial support for this workshop. Accordingly, the Ryerson University Institute for the Study of Corporate Social Responsibility is now turning its attention to developing the agenda and identifying an HRD subject matter expert who will play a key role at this workshop. Among other things, the workshop can explore "best practices", and suggestions of best practices would be appreciated. The Ryerson CSR Institute will develop an online repository of human rights defenders documents. A key outcome of the workshop will be agreement on next steps to be undertaken by the multistakeholder group (e.g., agreement to develop broad, multi-sector guidance for use by government, the private sector and civil society).
Those who would like to assist in working out the agenda or have best practice suggestions or otherwise help are encouraged to contact me at your earliest opportunity. Updates will be provided on the Ryerson CSR Institute website and by email. If you have any questions or comments on any of the foregoing, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Kernaghan Webb at email@example.com.
Feb 21,2017: Ryerson CSR Institute Director/Law Professor Heads New International Sharing Economy Initiative
February 6, 2017: Ryerson CSR Institute Director Comments on the Rise of Consumer Boycotts Coinciding Inauguration of New USA President (CBC Radio)
October 25, 2015: Ryerson CSR Institute Director Comments on Power of Multinationals to Implement Global CSR (Times Colonist)
October 6, 2015: Mid-October CSR Speaking Tour at EU Universities by Ryerson CSR and Law Professor
What started off as a single opportunity to participate in a CSR conference in Stockholm in
September 30, 2015: Forestry sustainability and APP take centre stage at Ryerson CSR Institute
September 2, 2015: Ryerson CSR Institute Director named Massey College Visiting Scholar
August 24, 2015: Spotlight on Ryerson University CSR Institute Associate Philip Walsh
August 24, 2015: Spotlight on Ryerson University CSR Institute Associate Rachel Dodds
The Connected Consumer in 2020: Empowered or Vulnerable?
In a world where anonymous online reviews can impact business and
anyone with a smartphone can become a rideshare driver, laws to keep
consumers safe in the information marketplace are lagging. In this
marketplace, individuals are free to match their products and services
to consumers in ways that were impossible before the Internet and with
little or no regulation.
“One minute we’re a consumer, and the next minute we’re a service
provider. How do we do that? How do we regulate that?” said Dr.
Kernaghan Webb, Associate Professor of Law and Business at Ryerson
Standards could be an important part of the answer.
Speakers at a recent event hosted by the Standards Council of Canada’s
(SCC) Consumer and Public Interest Panel (CPIP) discussed how
standardization could help consumers reduce the risks when buying and
accessing services online.
“I don’t think that regulation can be as agile as the information
marketplace,” said Howard Deane, member of the Board of Directors and
Treasurer of the Consumers Council of Canada. “I certainly believe
that standards can tame some of the Wild West atmosphere of online
reviews and reputation.”
Deane hopes his work on standard ISO/NP 20488, Online Consumer Reviews
-- Principles and requirements for collection, moderation and delivery
processes for online consumer reviews, will help guide sites where
consumers rate everything from local eateries to travel destinations.
While many online reviews are helpful, some commenters see them as an
opportunity to abuse a company. This can seriously affect a business
and its reputation. “A study from the Harvard Business School found
that a one star-increase on Yelp can increase the bottom line by 5 to
10 per cent. For restaurants that’s huge,” said Deane.
Reputation is not the only thing impacted by the digital marketplace.
Consumer privacy is affected too.
“A lot of organizations like to rely on privacy policies that are
long, nobody reads them, we all know this,” said Barbara Bucknell,
Director of the Policy and Research Branch of the Office of the
Privacy Commissioner of Canada. “How do we make these better so people
are asked to consent to activities in meaningful ways?”
Lack of privacy is not only a problem online. Smartphones collect data
on the places people go, the number of steps they take and even how
well they drive. François Coallier, Chief Information Officer and
professor at the École de technologie supérieure (ÉTS) said the large
amounts of data generated by these devices can create security
“It’s touching every aspect of our lives these days,” said Coallier.
“Everybody has a supercomputer in their pocket.”
Meanwhile, consumers looking for less expensive alternatives to hotels
and taxis are turning to home and rideshare services like Airbnb and
Uber. While renting a room from a stranger can be convenient, it has
the potential to be dangerous, said Webb. Users do not always know
whether the service provider has the necessary qualifications to
provide the service, what to do if problems arise, or how their
personal information will be used or how prices are set.
Webb stressed the need for governments, standards organizations and
consumer organizations to collaborate on regulating this emerging
prosumer (the blurring of consumer/producer) marketplace. “Right now
is the moment for us to engage,” said Webb. “In fact it’s a little bit
too late, but right now is a heck of a lot better than tomorrow.”
Those wishing to help solve issues of emerging technologies can get
involved in standards committees on topics ranging from nanoparticles
to smart grids. Those specifically interested in consumer issues can
apply to join SCC’s CPIP.
To learn more about standards development, see SCC’s orientation
module or subscribe to monthly news updates located on the left-hand
For the latest SCC news, subscribe to the SCC Monthly Newsletter or
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For additional information or media inquiries contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
June 13, 2015: Social Impact Investing: The Business Case for Social Impact Education-Huffington Post
Dr. Kernaghan Webb, Law and Business Professor at Ryerson University's Ted
Rogers School of Management and Director of Ryerson University's Institute
for the Study of Corporate Social Responsibility, comments on the societal
expectation today that corporations meet and exceed their legal and
Ryerson CSR Institute Director Kernaghan Webb comments on the legal challenges associated with bringing a legal action in Canada against Joe Fresh and related companies concerning the collapse of the Rana Plaza complex in Bangladesh, in which 1,100 apparel workers died.
April 29, 2015: Tibet mine probe bans Vancouver-based firm from export help Embassy -- Canada's Foreign Policy Newspaper
Professor Kernaghan Webb comments on the recent federal response to a complaint concerning alleged wrongdoing of China Gold International Resources Corp. Ltd's operations in Tibet's Gyama Valley.
November 11, 2014: Successful CSR Case Competition held at Ted Rogers School of Management
On Saturday, November 8, 2014, two Ryerson University student organizations -- the Corporate Social Responsibility Student Association (CSRSA) and the Ryerson Commerce and Government Association (RCGA) -- held their inaugural CSR Case Competition for undergraduate students at the Ted Rogers School of Management. After three rounds of competition, involving scenarios featuring CSR issues in the financial sector, the extractive sector and the food/apparel sector, the winners were:
1st place: Oluwatobi Taiwo (
2nd place: Shon Wilk (
3rd place: Ryan Young (
Congratulations to the winners, and to all the contestants.
A special thanks to the judges who took time out of their busy schedules to adjudicate the student presentations, and did a superb job. In alphabetical order: Oren Berkovitch (Deloitte); Trevor David (Sustainalytics); Andrei
Kudos to the
September 8, 2014: The growing field of Corporate Social Responsibility Toronto Star
Professor Webb and Ryerson instructor Bernarda Elizalde comment on innovative mining/CSR education at Ryerson University.
March 5, 2014: PDAC 2014: Miners keen to buy local in bid to dampen hostility to new projects Financial Post
Ryerson CSR Institute Director Kernaghan Webb comments on CSR and the role of local procurement in mining projects.
February 26, 2014: Ryerson CSR Institute Director comments on the federal government’s Extractive Sector CSR Strategy CBC News
Ryerson CSR Institute Director Kernaghan Webb discusses the importance of respecting national sovereignty, and the role of the CSR Centre for Excellence, in the Canadian Extractive Sector CSR Strategy.
February 14, 2014: Ryerson CSR Institute Director comments on certified chocolate CBC News
Ryerson CSR Institute Director Kernaghan Webb gives his views on market power and certification in a CBC report on efforts to commit Canadian chocolate companies to ethically-sourced cocoa.
January 22, 2014: Report on social responsibility among Canadian mining companies Toronto Star
The Toronto Star story was triggered by an event held by the Ryerson CSR Institute, on January 20th, where mining consultant Craig Ford spoke on the factors affecting corporate responsibility in the mining sector.
May 13, 2013: Ryerson CSR Institute provides commentary on Bangladesh apparel factory collapse
The Ryerson Institute for the Study of Corporate Social Responsibility provided television, radio, and newspaper commentary on the recent Bangladesh factory collapse and the potential and actual role of the Canadian apparel industry in addressing and preventing such tragedies. See articles in the following publications:
- Financial Post
- Toronto Star
- Paper on ISO 26000 Social Responsibility Standard now available for download
- Ryerson CSR Institute Director Wins Prestigious National Award for Social Responsibility Work
- “Lessons Learned” from the federal Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor
October 5, 2012 -- Paper on ISO 26000 Social Responsibility Standard now available for download
Webb, Kernaghan, ISO 26000: Bridging the Public/Private Divide in Transnational Business Governance Interactions (September 10, 2012). Osgoode CLPE Research Paper No. 21/2012. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2144420
August 30, 2012 -- Ryerson CSR Institute Director Wins Prestigious National Award for Social Responsibility Work
Dr. Kernaghan Webb, the Founding Director of the Ryerson Institute for the Study of Corporate Social Responsibility, and Associate Professor of Law and Business at the Ted Rogers School of Management, has been awarded the Standards Council of Canada’s Award of Excellence for 2012.
On the Standards Council of Canada website, the following description of Dr. Webb’s activities is provided:
Following his first experience in standards development, as a member of the Canadian Standards Association’s (CSA’s) Technical Committee on Privacy in 1995, Dr. Kernaghan Webb has gone on to spearhead the development of numerous ground-breaking social policy standards at both the national and international levels. As senior legal policy advisor and chief of research for the Office of Consumer Affairs (Industry Canada), he quickly established himself as an international leader in the development of a number of international standards. These standards include International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 10001, 10002, 10003 and 10008 (all focused on customer satisfaction) and ISO 26000 (social responsibility). In 2007, Dr. Webb was appointed Special Advisor to the United Nations Global Compact regarding ISO 26000. He has been influential in helping ISO and other standards bodies consider how to become more inclusive, accountable and transparent in developing standards. As associate professor of law and business at Ryerson University, he has written and lectured extensively on the role and value of voluntary codes and standards as supplements to the legal system, and is a recognized international expert and sought-after speaker on this topic. A passionate advocate for consumer and public interests, Dr. Webb has worked tirelessly to promote voluntary standards that benefit society and that make the global marketplace
Dr. Webb is only the second academic to win this award in its history. On learning that he was a recipient of the award, Dr. Webb was reported as saying “it’s a great honour to receive this award…the nexus between law, public policy and standards is receiving increasing attention, as governments, the private sector and civil society attempt to identify and develop fair, effective, efficient and sustainable approaches to addressing the global environmental, social and economic challenges facing the world today.”
Dr. Webb will be receiving his award at a special awards ceremony in Ottawa in October of this year.
ISO 10001 – international standard pertaining to codes of conduct, information concerning this standard accessible
ISO 10002- international standard pertaining to complaints handling, information concerning this standard accessible
ISO 10003 – international standard pertaining to external dispute resolution, information concerning this standard accessible
ISO 10008 – international standard pertaining to business to consumer electronic commerce (in development)
ISO 26000 – international standard pertaining to social responsibility, information concerning this standard accessible
Some relevant publications on the connections between public policy, law and standards:
Webb, Kernaghan, ISO 26000: Bridging the Public/Private Divide in Transnational Business Governance Interactions (September 10, 2012). Osgoode CLPE Research Paper No. 21/2012. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2144420
CD Howe Institute, The New Multilateralism: The Shift to Private Global Regulation (2012), accessible
Webb, K. (2012, forthcoming). “Antecedents of Settlement on a New Institutional Practice: Negotiations of the ISO 26000 Standard on Social Responsibility” (co-author), accepted for publication in the Academy of Management Journal. Forthcoming, 2012.
Webb, K. (2012, forthcoming). “Political Risk Insurance Contracts, Corporate Social Responsibility, and the Mining Sector: Examining the Connections,” accepted for publication in International Law and Management Journal, forthcoming, 2012.
Webb, K. (2012). “Multi-level CR and the Mining Sector: the Canadian Experience in Latin America," accepted for publication in Business and Politics Journal, forthcoming, 2012.
Webb, K. (2011). “Corporate Citizenship and Private Regulatory Regimes: Understanding New Governance Roles and Functions,” in P. Koslowski and I. Pies, eds., Corporate Citizenship and New Governance: The Political Role of Corporate Actors in Rule-Setting (Berlin: Springer Publications).
Webb, K., “Understanding the Voluntary Codes Phenomenon,” in K. Webb (ed.), Voluntary Codes: Private Governance, the Public Interest and Innovation (Ottawa: Carleton University Research Unit for Innovation, Science and Technology, 2004), accessible at: http://www5.carleton.ca/sppa/ccms/wp-content/ccms-files/ch1.pdf
Webb, K. and A. Morrison, “The Law and Voluntary codes: Examining the ‘Tangled Web,” in K. Webb (ed.), Voluntary Codes: Private Governance, the Public Interest and Innovation (Ottawa: Carleton University Research Unit for Innovation, Science and Technology, 2004), accessible at: http://www5.carleton.ca/sppa/ccms/wp-content/ccms-files/ch5.pdf
Rhone, G., J. Stroud and K. Webb, “Gap Inc.’s Code of Conduct for Treatment of Overseas Workers,” in K. Webb (ed.), Voluntary Codes: Private Governance, the Public Interest and Innovation (Ottawa: Carleton University Research Unit for Innovation, Science and Technology, 2004), accessible at: http://www5.carleton.ca/sppa/ccms/wp-content/ccms-files/ch7.pdf
Rhone, G., D. Clarke and K. Webb, “Two Voluntary Approaches to Sustainable Forestry Practices,” in K. Webb (ed.), Voluntary Codes: Private Governance, the Public Interest and Innovation (Ottawa: Carleton University Research Unit for Innovation, Science and Technology, 2004), accessible at: http://www5.carleton.ca/sppa/ccms/wp-content/ccms-files/ch9.pdf
Morrison, A., and K. Webb, “Bicycle Helmet Standards and Hockey Helmet Regulations: Two Approaches to Safety Protection,” in K. Webb (ed.), Voluntary Codes: Private Governance, the Public Interest and Innovation (Ottawa: Carleton University Research Unit for Innovation, Science and Technology, 2004), accessible at: http://www5.carleton.ca/sppa/ccms/wp-content/ccms-files/ch11.pdf
Webb, K., and D. Clarke, “Voluntary Codes in the United States, the European Union and Developing Countries: A Preliminary Survey,” in K. Webb (ed.), Voluntary Codes: Private Governance, the Public Interest and Innovation (Ottawa: Carleton University Research Unit for Innovation, Science and Technology, 2004), accessible at: http://www5.carleton.ca/sppa/ccms/wp-content/ccms-files/ch13.pdf
Webb, K., “Voluntary Codes: Where To From Here?” in K. Webb (ed.), Voluntary Codes: Private Governance, the Public Interest and Innovation (Ottawa: Carleton University Research Unit for Innovation, Science and Technology, 2004), accessible at: http://www5.carleton.ca/sppa/ccms/wp-content/ccms-files/ch14.pdf
“Lessons Learned” from the federal Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor
The Ryerson Institute for the Study of CSR has a Learning Partnership with the federal CSR Extractive Sector CSR Counsellor, which among other things has resulted in a highly successful public seminar series here at the Ryerson Institute for the Study of CSR. In the January 18,
Ryerson Institute for the Study of Corporate Social Responsibility
The Institute for the Study of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is located in the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University. The Institute seeks to advance CSR research, recognizing that increasingly, CSR issues are drivers for change in the business community. The goal of the Institute is to promote the Institute and Ryerson University as a centre of excellence in research and peer-reviewed publications on CSR issues, to increase research and understanding on these issues and thereby also increase research productivity in the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University, and to develop practical solutions. For further information, go to: www.ryerson.ca/
The Office of the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility Counsellor
The Office of the Extractive Sector Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Counsellor was established in 2009 as part of the Government of Canada’s CSR Strategy for the International Extractive Sector. Broadly speaking, the Strategy is designed to help Canadian mining, oil and gas companies meet their social and environmental responsibilities when operating abroad. The Office of the CSR Counsellor has