Yasmeen Hassan, Global Executive Director, celebrates Susan Chokachi as part of Equality Now’s 30 for 30, featuring 30 women and changemakers who have played a key role in making equality reality as part of our 30th anniversary celebrations.
When I walked into Gucci’s Manhattan offices eleven years ago to speak with their team about the global movement for gender equality, I admit it wasn’t without some trepidation.
Other leaders in the private sector had told me that the issues Equality Now tackles, like sex trafficking and sexual violence, were “dark issues” that would never work for a corporate brand. I couldn’t imagine that one of the world’s most famous luxury fashion houses would feel any differently.
But then I met Susan. At the time, Susan was Gucci North America’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications and the first corporate leader I encountered fully dedicated to supporting our movement.
For Susan, this commitment wasn’t just personal. She was also passionate about using her corporate platform to uplift, which she has continued to do in her current role as President and CEO of Gucci North America.
“We never saw it as any kind of risk to raise our voices against female genital mutilation, sex trafficking, honor killings, or any kind of injustice faced by women and girls,” I recall Susan telling the audience during her remarks at our 2017 Make Equality Reality Gala. “Instead, we saw this as a pressing and urgent opportunity to help call for change.”
In 2013 Susan was one of the driving forces behind the creation of CHIME FOR CHANGE, established by Gucci, along with co-founders Salma Hayek Pinault and Beyoncé, to convene, unite and strengthen the voices speaking out for gender equality. In the years since CHIME FOR CHANGE has played an essential role in raising awareness around the issue of gender equality through numerous events while also bringing other corporate partners into the fold.
Gucci’s unparalleled reach has been instrumental in creating far-reaching communications focused on and inspired by youth and helping to support organizations around the world dedicated to women and girls.
In 2018, Equality Now partnered with Gucci to bring this vision further forward with the first annual Changemaker Award presented by Gucci and CHIME FOR CHANGE. This award has become a highlight of our gala every year since recognizing an exceptional young woman whose activism has helped to create a positive impact on gender equality.
Over the past decade, I have had the opportunity to get to know Susan and to see what a rare, fantastic person she is. She is a hard worker, a great listener, a strategic thinker, and an incredibly humble and generous person who uses her skills and her platform to support and propel progress for women and girls.
I think it’s hardly a coincidence that Gucci has taken such bold and thoughtful steps to make the world a better place for women and girls—because it has a bold and thoughtful leader in Susan at its helm.