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State Street Global Advisors presses companies it invests in to add women to boards

State Street Global Advisors said it has adopted new guidelines to press 3,500 public companies in which it invests to increase the number of women on their boards.

The Boston-based investment giant, an arm of State Street Corp., manages nearly $2.5 trillion for institutional investors, predominantly in index funds. The company said it was calling on the companies it invests in on behalf of pensions and other large clients to diversify their boards.

“We believe good corporate governance is a function of strong, effective and independent board leadership,” Ron O’Hanley, chief executive officer of SSGA, said in a statement.

State Street said one out of every four Russell 3000 companies has no women on its board. Nearly 60 percent have fewer than 15 percent of women directors on their boards. For most of its history, State Street has not taken an active stance in voting proxies for the stocks it owns in passive index funds. But over the past year it has advocated for independent directors on the boards of publicly traded companies. It will take up gender diversity over the next year, the company said.


The announcement came on the eve of International Women’s Day. To mark the moment, State Street placed a statue of a young girl in lower Manhattan, close to the famous bronze Wall Street bull. The statue, by artist Kristen Visbal, will be there for a month.

Beth Healy can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @HealyBeth.