By Amanda DeSilva
What better way to kick start women’s history month than with a 50-inch tall bronze statue of a defiant girl, symbolizing women empowerment within the workplace, placed in front of Wall Street’s iconic charging bull statue.
‘Fearless Girl’ was installed on the eve of International Women’s Day (March 8th) as a part of State Street’s Global Advisors (an investment service company) campaign to pressure companies to add more women to their boards. There is very little female diversity within the workplace all over, the financial industry included. State Street said they strategically chose the placement of the statue to be in front of Wall Street’s iconic bull not only to make a statement about gender diversity but to also send a message to finance companies to increase the number of women on their corporate boards.
The firm had followed up with a letter that was sent to thousands of companies asking them to take action to increase the diversity on the boards. State Street says that about a quarter of the companies it sent letters to have no women on their boards.
“As a steward of nearly $2.5 trillion of assets, we want to engage with boards and management around issues that we think will drive core results.” said Lori Heinel, the deputy global chief investment officer of State Street. “ And what you find repeatedly is having more diverse boards and more diverse senior management will actually drive better results for companies.”
The artist behind fearless girl is Kristen Visbal. “This is a piece of work all women of any age, shape, color or creed can relate to. A work which reminds us that today’s working woman is here to stay and has taken her place in the nation’s financial district.” said Visbal.
Since it’s installation, ‘Fearless Girl’ has sparked conversation. Where some see the statue as a powerful symbol, others have been convinced that the statue represents nothing but fake corporate feminism. The statue that was meant to uplift women in the workplace actually has made some angry. Jillian Steinhauer, writer and editor of hyperallergic.com found the installment of this statue to be patronizing due to the fact that the company behind the installment is a massive male dominant capitalist company.
Of the 28 people leading State Street, only 5 are women. So this leaves many with the following question: If you’re calling for finance to hire women to senior positions, why don’t you? So while out of context, the sentiment may be there, given the circumstances the statue falls flat.