Gigi Chao: Top LGBTI Business Woman – 2016
A few years ago, Gigi’s father offered 1 billion Hong Kong dollars to any man that would convince his daughter to marry. Whether it was the embarrassment of having a lesbian daughter, or the fact that he was showing the world that he was doing everything imaginable to save her and his reputation is up for grabs. Gigi already was wealthy and she was perfectly happy to elope to France and have a civil partnership with her lover of nine years – Sean Eav.
Gigi Chao is Vice Chairman of Cheuk Nang. She is the first Asian AND first lesbian to top the annual Outstanding ranking, produced in partnership with the Financial Times.
Last year’s top 100 ranking of LGBT+ business people, at executive level, was head by Inga Beale, the openly bisexual CEO of Lloyds of London. She drops to number two on this year’s list.
Gigi’s Open Letter:
In 2014, Gigi wrote an open letter to her father asking him to abandon his search for a husband for her.
‘I do love my partner Sean, who does a good job of looking after me, ensuring I am fed, bathed and warm enough every day, and generally cheering me up to be a happy, jolly girl. She is a large part of my life, and I am a better person because of her,’ she said in the letter.
‘I’m sorry to mislead you to think I was only in a lesbian relationship because there was a shortage of good, suitable men in Hong Kong.
‘There are plenty of good men, they are just not for me.’
Gigi Never Had to Choose Between Her Lover Sean and Her Father’s Empire
Away from her private life, Gigi was busy building a successful career as executive director of luxury property development company, Cheuk Nang.
Commenting on this year’s listings, OUTstanding Founder and CEO, Suki Sandhu said in a statement, ‘Now in our fourth year, the abundance of new faces in the LGBT+ Future Leaders list is further proof that more people want to come forward as role models.
‘This year’s list is more diverse – women dominate the Top 10 of the LGBT+ Executive list and we are celebrating more transgender champions than ever before.’
Commenting on her number one ranking, Gigi Chao said in a statement, ‘I was forced to come out of the closet, but as soon as it happened I realised it was an opportunity to set a good example.
‘Being recognised for the first time in the OUTstanding Top 100 leading LGBT+ Executives list is a huge honour as I share the belief that world leaders and companies have a responsibility to drive LGBT+ inclusion and policy change.’
Topping this year’s list of top 50 allies is Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, who has been vocal in his condemnation of anti-LGBT discrimination. RWB Media CEO and YouTube influencer, Raymond Braun, is number one in the Top 50 LGBT+ Future Leaders list.
The 2016 top ten LGBT+ executives in the world are as follows:
1Gigi Chao – Executive Vice Chairman, Cheuk Nang Holdings Limited
2Inga Beale – CEO, Lloyds of London
3Alan Joyce – CEO, Qantas
4Martine Rothblatt – CEO, United Therapeutics Corporation
5Stacey Friedman – General Counsel, JP Morgan
6David Furnish – CEO, Rocket Entertainment Group
7Jonathan Mildenhall – Chief Marketing Officer, Airbnb
8Liz Bingham – Partner, EY
9Mary Portas – Executive Creative Director, Portas Agency
10Louis Vega – Chief of Staff, Office of the Chairman and CEO, Dow Chemical Company
Tim Cook – Missing?
One name missing from the list of LGBTI executives is arguably the most famous openly gay businessman in the world: Tim Cook of Apple. However, as in previous years, all those ranked on the listing have to give their approval to appear, and Apple have consistently declined to respond to requests for Cook’s name to be included.