Hong Kong property heir Gigi Chao leads diversity debate in Asian business and hopes to change attitudes in Asia

Hong Kong real estate magnate Cecil Chao selected his daughter Gigi ahead of his two sons to succeed him as chairman of Hong Kong-listed real estate developer Cheuk Nang (Holdings). Gigi and her father oversee residential real estate projects in Macau, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the thriving technology hubs Shenzhen and Hangzhou. But while Chao has met with notable success in the family business, she’s also attracted attention for her activism for LGBT+ civil rights.

Chao lives openly with her same-sex partner and juggles her growing corporate responsibilities with philanthropic activities and an increasingly high profile role as a leading spokesperson for Asia’s LGBT+ community. She’s a prominent voice for change in a region that lags Europe and North America in terms of protection of gay rights, and where LGBT+ role models are rare, especially in business.

In October, the Financial Times/OUTstanding list of the 100 leading LGBT+ executives ranked her number one on its 2016 list, ahead of leaders from Google, Facebook and Bank of America. Gigi pledges to be “a catalyst for change and voice for the people who want to be heard.”

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