The Fearless Girl Statue Favorite 


Mar 8 2017


Wall Street, New York City

On the eve of International Women’s Day and the one-year anniversary of its SPDR®SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF (ticker: SHE), State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), the asset management business of State Street Corporation (NYSE: STT) is calling on the more than 3,500 companies that SSGA invests on behalf of clients, representing more than $30 trillion in market capitalization1 to take intentional steps to increase the number of women on their corporate boards.

To mark this effort and the power of women in leadership, SSGA has placed a statue of a young girl, representing the future, in the center of the world’s financial capital – right near Wall Street in New York City. “We believe good corporate governance is a function of strong, effective and independent board leadership," said Ron O’Hanley, president and chief executive officer of SSGA. “A key contributor to effective independent board leadership is diversity of thought, which requires directors with different skills, backgrounds and expertise. Today, we are calling on companies to take concrete steps to increase gender diversity on their boards and have issued clear guidance to help them begin to take action.”This morning O’Hanley will detail the guidance in his keynote speech at the Corporate Governance Symposium hosted by the University of Delaware’s Weinberg Center for Corporate Governance. The focus of this year’s symposium is “Governance Issues of Critical Importance to Boards and Investors in 2017.”

According to an MSCI study, companies with strong female leadership generated a return on equity of 10.1 percent per year versus 7.4 percent for those without a critical mass of women at the top, which is a 36.4 percent increase of average return on equity. 2,3 And, according to a 2015 McKinsey Global Institute report, moving to a scenario where women participate in the economy identically to men would add up to $28 trillion, or an additional 26 percent, to annual global GDP by 2025 compared to a business as usual scenario.4

Despite this, although there has been some progress made on the inclusion of women on corporate boards, one out of every four Russell 3000 companies do not have even one woman on their board, and nearly 60 percent have fewer than 15 percent of their boards comprising women directors.

SSGA today issues guidelines to drive greater board gender diversity through active dialogue and engagement with company and board leadership. In the event that a company fails to take action to increase the number of women on its board, SSGA will use proxy voting power to influence change - voting against the chair of the board’s nominating and/or governance committee if necessary.

“As part of our review of boards’ gender diversity, we analyzed and compared the level of diversity in three markets: Australia, the UK and the US,” said Rakhi Kumar, head of corporate governance at SSGA. “Most large cap company boards in these markets have at least one female director but have yet to fully embrace gender equality in their ranks. We believe boards have an important role to play in increasing gender diversity and believe our guidance can help directors take action now.”

"I wholeheartedly support State Street's efforts," said Chris Ailman, Chief Investment Officer, CalSTRS. "Companies need to step up and better utilize the talents and leadership of women in their Corporate Boards, C-suite and throughout their ranks. This statue boldly signals to financial markets that the future depends on investing in the power of women. We all need to lean in and be bold for change now."

To help address the gender gap head-on, SHE incorporates an innovative charitable component that focuses on strengthening the next generation of women leaders - particularly in industries where women have low representation today such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). SSGA is directing a portion of their revenues and a match from SSGA to a Donor Advised Fund, which has awarded a $50,000 grant to Girls Who Invest, a nonprofit organization founded in April 2015 dedicated to increasing the number of women in portfolio management and executive leadership in the asset management industry.

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It's location and origin has sparked an enormous amount of dialogue and controversy surrounding ethics, relevancy, appropriateness, artistic rights, and double standards. Its location drives local and international attention from people who wouldn't otherwise be exposed to this level of activism so undoubtedly, a greater discussion around gender equity and moral has been sparked since then. In terms of impact, the agency that commissioned this artwork claims that over 150 publicly traded companies have added women to their previously all-male boards. Additionally, replicas have popped up in many parts of the country. However, there has been on-going battle between the artist and the company with rights on the artwork and limitations they've imposed on the agency she has over it. Additionally, the artist that created the bull threatened to sue the action and another artist installed "Pissing Pug" next to "Fearless Girl" in a defiant response.