The French billionaire whose company controls luxury giants like Gucci says brands should be taking 'bold public positions' against the mistreatment of women

Francois-Henri PinaultPhoto by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic / Getty Images

Kering CEO and chairman François-Henri Pinault spoke at the annual Women's Forum in Paris Wednesday about the #MeToo Movement and gender inequality.

Kering is one of the largest luxury-goods companies in the world, owning brands such as Gucci, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, and Bottega Veneta.

At the forum, Pinault said that it was important for companies to be leaders and to take decisive stances on important issues.

"Companies in the 21st century, we need to have a sense of purpose that goes much beyond our business goals as part of the strategy of the company, [and] as part of the culture of the company," he said, according to Women's Wear Daily. "We shouldn't be afraid as companies, as leaders, to take bold public positions on certain very important societal topics."

This isn't the first time Pinault has spoken out about women's rights and the need for equality

Women's Wear Daily reports that Pinault and his wife, actress Salma Hayek, have long been champions of women's rights, mainly through their work with the Kering Foundation, which seeks to "combat violence against women." Kering also launched Women in Motion, which seeks to highlight women working in the film industry, and to promote gender equality in that industry. The Women in Motion Award is presented annually at the Cannes Film Festival, with past winners including Jane Fonda in 2015, Isabelle Huppert in 2017, and "Wonder Woman" director Patty Jenkins in 2018, Variety reports.

Pinault was also one of seven chief executives to sign the "One in Three Women" charter, WWD reports. The charter references the number of women who are victims of violence in their lives. It was created jointly by the FACE Foundation and Kering Foundation, with L'Oréal as one of the ambassadors. The charter hopes to push for measures that seek to end gender-based violence.

The Kering Foundation celebrated its 10th anniversary of supporting #MeToo-related causes last year, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

"We will continue the fight and explore new fields of action such as prevention, by raising awareness among men about violence against women," Pinault said at a 2018 event celebrating the anniversary. "I will also keep in mind the fate of children, who are often direct or indirect victims of this violence."

Kering has already taken measures to correct its own wrongdoings in the realm of gender inequality

In addition, Kering partnered with LVMH in 2017 to advocate for better treatment of models, following reports that some had been mistreated during a casting. In May 2019, the BBC reported that Kering also stopped hiring models who are under the age of 18. Kering followed the lead of Condé Nast, which announced last year that it would stop using models under the age of 18.

"We have to be sincere when we do that," he continued during his appearance at the recent Women's Forum. "Let's do that for our own people, but also for the community. It's just a matter of endorsing our responsibilities toward all the communities we're interacting with."

Pinault also referenced how Gucci, one of Kering's biggest brands (and the fastest growing luxury brand of 2019), has already taken a series of public stances, including one against child marriage, donating $500,000 to the student-led anti-gun rally March for Our Lives, and launching multiple initiatives to help increase diversity within the company.

"There's still a lot to be done. Let's say the wall of silence has been broken, thanks to the #MeToo movement. Let's hope that this will end the impunity that was almost the rule in that field, but more importantly, let's hope that this will end up in laws in different countries, but that are enforced," Pinault said. "I hope that we will come to that."

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