Burson appoints top human-rights expert to head up global CSR arm

WASHINGTON: Bennett Freeman, a leading expert on international human rights and a former State Department official, has joined Burson-Marsteller as head of its global CSR practice.

WASHINGTON: Bennett Freeman, a leading expert on international human rights and a former State Department official, has joined Burson-Marsteller as head of its global CSR practice.

Burson turned to the 45-year-old former deputy assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights, and labor for his experience with international standards of conduct and government compliance. His tasks will include helping clients develop codes of conduct, undertake risk assessments, build relations with NGOs, and assess corporate responsibility reporting under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Burson formalized its CSR function, now called its Ethical and Social Responsibility Unit, in August 2002. The unit draws from various practices, including public affairs, corporate and financial, and media relations.

"We see corporations facing growing pressures and expectations from diverse stakeholders around the world," said Judi Mackey, chair of Burson's US corporate and financial practice. "These groups have set new agendas and even new rules of the conduct of business. Bennett will bring our clients global expertise and credibility as a recognized leader and innovator on corporate responsibility and human rights."

Freeman was most recently principal of Sustainable Investment Strategies, where he advised global companies, international institutions, and NGOs on corporate responsibility and political-risk issues.

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