This year’s OUTstanding and FT leading LGBT executives ranking is for the first time topped by someone from Asia: Gigi Chao, the lesbian executive vice-chairman of Cheuk Nang Holdings, a Hong Kong-listed property developer. As she puts it, “In Europe, one can say being gay is cool; in Asia, we are far from that.”

Undeterred, she is one of the biggest campaigners for LGBT rights in Hong Kong, despite public disapproval from her father, who is not only a business tycoon, but also her boss.

Meanwhile, the 2016 top ally award and the top future leader prize go to Americans — Marc Benioff, chief executive of, and Raymond Braun, the YouTube activist.

This year, we introduced a hall of fame for which any LGBT executive who has ranked in the top 10 for at least three years running is eligible.

As last year, all those included in the 2016 rankings were nominated by their peers and have given their permission to be named. This is why there are some notable omissions, including Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook.

Nominations were reviewed by a judging panel consisting of:

● Lord Browne, executive chairman of L1 Energy

● Dawn Airey, chief executive of Getty Images

● Ashok Vaswani, chief executive of Barclays UK

● Harriet Green, head of internet of things, commerce and education at IBM

● Vicki Culpin, Hult International Business School’s global dean of research

● Suki Sandhu, founder and chief executive of OUTstanding, the LGBT networking and research group

● Carola Hoyos, the editor of the FT’s Executive Appointments section and of its Non-Executive Directors’ Club

The nominees were scored on the seniority and influence of their role, their business achievements and their impact on LGBT inclusion within the workplace and externally.

For the Leading LGBT executives and Leading ally executive lists, the seniority and influence of the nominees was taken into consideration. They had to be visibly out, or a vocal ally, and actively working to create an environment enabling LGBT people to comfortably bring their best professional selves to work. It was important for nominees to be working towards this goal over and above their day job, making it difficult for the judges to consider diversity and inclusion professionals, however deserving.

Future Leaders are high performing and high potential individuals at various career levels. For the purpose of the lists, a stronger emphasis was placed on their work towards LGBT inclusion rather than their seniority in the business.

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