State Street has placed a bronze statue of a daring young girl staring down Wall Street’s iconic raging bull to celebrate International Women’s Day.
The fund manager commissioned artist Kristen Visbal to create the statue, which will remain in place for one month, as part of a campaign to pressure companies to put more women in the boardroom.
Jill Mavro, head of strategic relationship group at State Street Global Advisors, said: “It’s time to improve gender diversity in corporate America.
“Promoting leadership opportunities for women in financial services, and all industries, provides companies with new perspectives and approaches that may lead to better business results.”
She points to a recent MSCI study which showed that companies with strong female leadership generated a return on equity of 10.1% per year versus 7.4% for those without a critical mass of women at the top, a 36.4% increase of average return on equity.
Other data shows that one out of every four Russell 3000 companies do not have even one woman on their board. And nearly 60% have fewer than 15% of their boards composed of women directors.
As part of the campaign, State Street is sending a letter to 3500 corporations calling for more gender diversity in the upper echelons of management, amid warnings that it will vote against boards that fail to take steps to push women up the leadership ladder.
The bull has become a a mascot for Wall Street after it was placed there more than 25 years ago. It symbolizes a bull market or optimism that stocks will rise and money will be made.
A plaque at the girl statue’s feet reads: “Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.”
“We placed a new symbol of women and leadership in a place that no one can ignore,” State Street wrote on Twitter.
“The idea of having a female sort of stand against the bull, or stand up to the bull, just struck us as a very clever, but also creative and engaging way to make that statement,” said Lori Heinel, the firm’s deputy global chief investment officer.
He continued that the positioning of the girl’s statue versus the bull seemed like she was “willing to challenge and take on the status quo.”