Research themes

BHRIGHT’s research is conducted under six main themes.  Each theme is organised by a leader, and brings together groups of researchers and students interested in the key concerns of the theme. 

Climate change & environment

The Climate Change and Environment theme of BHRIGHT illuminates the role that business plays in critical environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity and pollution, and the impacts this has on human rights. It offers a lens on how climate change impacts the operation of business in Australia’s future ‘carbon constrained economy’; how environmental accountability is key to long term business success, particularly in terms of human rights issues.

We conduct research and provide commentary on specific fields of interest such as climate change risk, stakeholder engagement, building standards, transport and mobility, energy consumption, GHG emissions measurement and reporting. The Climate Change and Environment theme intersects with the work of other themes in BHRIGHT, for example in relation to climate refugees and migration, the gendered impact of climate change, and the varied effects of a warmer world on work in supply chains.


Climate Change and Environment Theme Leader

Dr Leanne Morrison

Climate Change and Environment Researchers

Dr Saima Ahmad, Dr Carol Bond, Dr Serene Ho, Akshay Jadhav, Dr Vanessa Johnston, Dr Anne Kallies, Dr Jayanthi Kumarasiri, Professor Alan Lowe, Gabriella Belfrage-Maher, Associate Professor Laura Maran

Theme resources




The Gender theme fosters and furthers multi-disciplinary critical feminist engagement with the business and human rights agenda. We build on an understanding of organizations as ‘inequality regimes’ that frequently institutionalise and perpetuate gender and other forms of inequality across the globe. Collaborating with researchers, as well as practitioners - in business, government and civil society - we aim to assess, and advance, the potential of the new business and human rights agenda to address gender equality, and intersectional oppression.

We work to develop the gender, business and human rights research field, and to critique and apply the United Nations (2019) recommendations on the ‘Gender dimensions of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’.

The Gender theme intersects with, and aims to contribute to, other themes of BHRIGHT through, for example, raising questions and highlighting research regarding the gendered nature of global business supply chains, climate change, health, technologies, and business operations in conflict-affected areas.


Gender Theme Leader

Dr Kate Grosser 

Gender Researchers

Sara Todt; Lisa Heap; Yingyi Luo; Emma Rae; Laura McVey; Saima Ahmad; Dr Elizabeth Shi; Dr Meagan Tyler; Associate Professor Shelley Marshall; Add related researchers and

Gender, Business and Human Rights with Dr Kate Grosser

Dr Kate Grosser explains why gendered injustice worsening rather than improving

Portrait of Andrea Shemberg

Why it helps companies to think of sexual harassment as a human rights issue

GBI Chair Andrea Shemberg discusses the advantages to companies of using a human rights lens to examine risks associated with sexual harassment.

Theme resources


Affiliate research partners

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The Health theme of BHRIGHT explores the boundaries between health, government and business. The human right to the highest attainable standard of health and mental health is a comprehensive human right concerned with the legal, social, political and economic determinants of health and well-being. The human right to health provides a unique lens through which to tackle major questions of law and social policy pertaining to business conduct. It provides a framework for connecting the experiences of individuals with broad systems in which they live, produce and work. Realisation of the human right to health is linked with business in multiple ways. The close connections between health and business has been starkly highlighted by COVID-19. Health, Business and Human Rights will be of continuing significance in the post COVID-19 era where an epidemic of acute mental distress is forecast to emerge alongside economic crisis.

Digital technologies

BHRIGHT’s Technology theme tackles some of the biggest human rights issues emerging from the increasing pervasiveness of tech in our daily lives. From Atlassian to Uber; from Canberra to Washington, we are now all interconnected. Actors and organisations across the globe can produce direct or indirect effects on Australians’ human rights. Our work focuses on risks posed by emerging tech to privacy (including children’s privacy), democracy, Economic, Social & Cultural rights, equality and justice. The potential benefits of tech for human rights are also explored, including tracking goods through supply chains, enabling activism and access to knowledge.

Peace & conflict

Some of the most egregious instances of human rights abuses occur in conflict zones. The Peace and Conflict theme of BHRIGHT serves as a focal point for the Centre and University’s work to examine and analyse the various roles and impacts businesses have in situations of armed conflict and peace-building efforts around the world. 

Our goal is to positively influence business behaviour in conflict-affected areas, and related public policy and regulation at the domestic and international levels. We do so through scholarly research and collaboration with industry and civil society partners. This work includes the development of practical guidance for businesses and other stakeholders to explore how to achieve more responsible business practices in conflict-affected areas, including respecting the laws of armed conflict and the protection of human rights.  Concurrently, the cluster explores the possibilities and perils of the private sector’s involvement in humanitarian and peace-building activities.  

"BHRIGHT acknowledges and thanks Australian Red Cross for its collaboration within the theme of responsible business in conflict zones. That partnership has made many of the resources featured on this page possible. We recognise Australian Red Cross’ unique role in advancing knowledge of international humanitarian law (laws of armed conflict), including amongst the Australian business community."

Business operating in conflict zones with Jonathan Kolieb

Dr Jonathan Kolieb discusses researching business and human rights in conflict zones.

Theme resources

Feature publications

At first glance, it can be hard to see how international humanitarian law (IHL), also known as the laws of war, is relevant to Australian businesses. Some people think the Geneva Conventions – which form the cornerstone of IHL – only relate to governments and humanitarian workers, not private industries like mining and energy companies. But IHL is an important and often overlooked consideration in discussions about responsible business practices in complex environments. And a diverse range of businesses face real ethical and legal risks in the context of armed conflict.

These businesses have the power and influence to significantly impact – positively and negatively – the communities in which they operate. A genuine application of the ‘do no harm’ principle should involve a proactive understanding, honouring and promotion of IHL in their business operations.

Australian Red Cross and RMIT University have teamed up to develop a simple framework to help businesses include international humanitarian law (IHL) – also known as the laws of war – in their existing risk-management protocols and human rights due diligence processes.

Our Seven Indicators framework will help businesses address and mitigate these risks through the implementation of international humanitarian law standards. Adherence to this framework will also help businesses demonstrate their commitment to upholding the universally accepted standards of responsible and humane conduct in conflict-affected areas.

Academic publications


YouTube Channel

Better Place: Talking International Law


Free Business-oriented training modules featured on Australian Red Cross training website. Jonathan Kolieb has contributed to the development of the online modules.

This features several short online modules designed for businesspeople (including sustainability, legal and risk managers) and security personnel: 

  • "Introduction to Security, Armed Conflict and International Humanitarian Law"
  • "International Humanitarian Law for Company Leaders"
  • "International Humanitarian Law for Energy and Extractives Companies"

Labour & supply chains

BHRIGHT’s Labour and Supply chains theme engages with critical issues around corporate responsibility and accountability. Some of the most pressing problems for labour can be traced to national and global supply chains. Debates around what are the best methods around corporate governance, supply chain transparency and due diligence continue. However, the presence of child labour, modern slavery, inequality, the feminisation of work, lack of freedom of association and poor environmental practices remain the wicked problems. Our work encourages approaches to highlight the intersection of supply chain governance, ethical practice, and labour rights. To think around big ideas and promote strategies that contribute to solutions on wicked problems and lead to sharing knowledge and benefit to key actors, in particular affected communities and workers.

Homeworking women and gender justice with Annie Delaney

RMIT Business and Human Rights Centre lead on Labour and Supply chains explains why researching home-based work is important.

Textile cloth factory working process tailoring workers equipment

Ethical enterprise

BHRIGHT’s Ethical Enterprise theme engages with critical multi-disciplinary issues around being and becoming an ethical enterprise. It focuses on institutional and organisational mechanisms of how small, medium, and large businesses can create social, environmental, and economic impacts with and for their stakeholders. Collaborating with researchers, practitioners, and policymakers in business, government, and civil society, we aim to develop an emancipatory knowledge by addressing research questions, such as “How do national and international institutions enable or hinder creating shared value in social procurement?” or “How do social enterprises strategize, create and communicate value in the COVID world?”.

The Ethical Enterprise theme intersects with and aims to contribute to other themes of BHRIGHT through exploring factors informing environmental and social (ir)responsibility of businesses across various national and industrial contexts.

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Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.