Susan Chokachi wears many hats and she does so effortlessly, yet realistically. The President and CEO of Gucci America traverses the worlds of fashion and philanthropy while balancing her roles of wife and mother. But her success in her career and life is held together by her belief that “complete balance is a myth.”
“I don’t think anyone ever achieves perfect balance,” says the University of California Berkeley graduate. “It’s a lovely idea, that things can be in balance or in harmony, but unfortunately that’s not life, I don’t think. Once you surrender to that fact, I think it makes it much easier to manage lots of demands and different priorities.”
Susan, who was an art history major in college, never saw a career in fashion for herself. But after a stint at Giorgio Armani, Susan began her career at Gucci America in 1998, and was the Senior Vice President of marketing and communications until March 2016. Her current role at Gucci America calls for her to split her time between Los Angeles and New York, as well as working in the field, visiting stores. In line with Gucci’s commitment to campaign for gender equality, Susan also dedicates significant time and energy working on issues that matter to girls and women around the world.
In 2013 Susan was part of the senior team at Gucci and its parent company, Kering, when Gucci announced the founding of CHIME FOR CHANGE, with Beyoncé and Salma Hayek Pinault among its co-founders. CHIME FOR CHANGE, a global campaign to convene, unite and strengthen the voices speaking out for girls and women around the world, upheld Gucci’s long history of working for social change.
“We wanted to make people more aware and concerned about the issues affecting girls and women around the world,” says Susan. “Gucci has always been concerned about things well beyond its core business and has always been a leading company with respect to being engaged in both sustainability and social responsibility.”
CHIME FOR CHANGE focuses on using an innovative approach to raise awareness for projects promoting Education, Health and Justice for girls and women. In the summer of 2013, Gucci and CHIME FOR CHANGE hosted THE SOUND OF CHANGE LIVE concert at Twickenham Stadium in London. The message of gender equality was brought to 50,000 people in the stadium and broadcast into the homes of a billion people around the world.
In 2015, CHIME FOR CHANGE joined Global Citizen, the grassroots activist organization, in a long-term partnership to help end extreme poverty by the year 2030, and to build a stronger global campaign to create lasting change for girls and women around the world. The number one goal of the partnership remains to make girls’ and women’s issues a priority.
“Never did we suspect that in 2017, things that we have always taken for granted would be at risk, even in this country,” says Susan. On the positive side, this has rallied support in unprecedented ways. Movements like CHIME FOR CHANGE and Global Citizen are mobilizing support and fueling progress. Since 2012, Global Citizens around the world have taken over 10 million actions toward solving the world’s biggest challenges. To date, these actions along with high level advocacy efforts have resulted in 250 commitments and policy announcements from world leaders, including financial aid valued at over $30 billion that is set to affect the lives of 1 billion people.
The bond that ties CHIME FOR CHANGE and Global Citizen together is the issue of gender equality, and a mutual belief that to tackle global poverty, it is necessary to understand how vital girls and women are to nearly every global issue. There are several opportunities and ways in which you can take action.
For CHIME storytelling and community sharing please visit https://community.globalcitizen.org/campaign/chime-for-change .
To take action for gender equality please visit https://www.globalcitizen.org/en/campaign/levelthelaw/ .
“Every voice matters. Every voice. And I think we are at a moment when people are owning that, and are participating because they realize they can and should play a part, and that’s pretty amazing,” says Susan.
WORDS BY YVETTE NOEL-SCHURE