Elizabeth Umlas

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  • Elizabeth Umlas

    Senior Fellow

    Elizabeth Umlas is a senior fellow at Croatan Institute. A political scientist by training, she is an independent researcher and consultant with over 15 years of experience in the field of business and human rights. She is currently senior advisor on capital stewardship to a global union federation in Switzerland. In her work with global unions, she has spearheaded investor engagement as a key leverage point in changing corporate behavior in relation to workers’ fundamental rights. She has been based in Switzerland since 2004; her projects are international in scope and her clients have included UN organizations, international NGOs and academic institutions in Europe.

    In addition to working with Croatan Institute, Umlas teaches business and human rights at Oxford University, the University of Fribourg and the University of Geneva. From 2001 to 2007, she was senior research analyst for human rights at KLD Research & Analytics, a leading socially responsible investment (SRI) research firm in Boston. Her work there involved overseeing KLD’s human rights research. Prior to KLD, she was manager of policy research at Oxfam America and before that, a program officer and consultant for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

    Her current research examines the “B Corporation” (benefit corporation) and business and human rights movements, the scope for collaboration between the two and the implications for holding corporations accountable for their impacts on human rights. Umlas is a co-founder of Sustainable Finance Geneva, a member of the Amnesty Business Group of Switzerland and a board member of the NGO Media Matters for Women. She is originally from Boston.


    Ph.D., Political Science, Yale University

    M.A., Political Science, Yale University

    B.A., Harvard University


    Spanish, French

    Bourke Martignoni, J. and Umlas, E., "Gender-responsive Due Diligence for Business Actors: Human Rights-based Approaches," Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Academy Briefing No. 12, December 2018.

    Bauer, J. and Umlas, E., “Do Benefit Corporations Respect Human Rights?,” Stanford Social Innovation Review, Fall 2017.

    Bauer, J. and Umlas, E., “Making Corporations Responsible: The Parallel Tracks of the B Corp Movement and the Business and Human Rights Movement,” Business & Society Review, September 2017.

    Sustainability Reporting on Children’s Rights.” UNICEF CSR Working Paper, December 2012. 

    Protected but Exposed: Multinational Corporations’ Use of Private Security.” Small Arms Survey 2011: States of Security, Cambridge University Press, 2011.

    Corporate Human Rights Reporting: An Analysis of Current Trends.” Commissioned by the Global Reporting Initiative, Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative, and the UN Global Compact, November 2009.

    Investing in the Workforce: Social Investors and International Labor Standards.” ILO Working Paper, 2009. 

    Human Rights and SRI in North America: An Overview.” Paper prepared to inform the mandate of Professor John Ruggie, the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on business and human rights, January 2009.

    “The Global Expansion of SRI: Facing Challenges, Meeting Potential.” Development and Change, vol. 39, no. 6 (November 2008).


    Reflections on the 7th Annual UN Forum on Business and Human Rights