“Fearless Girl” made its debut a year ago to celebrate International Women’s Day, and life hasn’t been the same since for all-male corporate boards.
The 50-inch bronze statue by artist Kristen Visbal — commissioned by the investment arm of Boston’s State Street Corp. — appeared overnight in Lower Manhattan, standing up to the nearby “Charging Bull” of Wall Street statue — as if to announce that men no longer corner the market on capitalism.
She’s a piece of guerilla art, just as “Charging Bull” was, and State Street and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio have been working to make her a permanent fixture.
But “Fearless Girl” isn’t just a marketing gimmick. She symbolizes the work State Street Global Advisors has undertaken to push 3,500 companies it invests in to have gender diversity in the boardroom. Companies with all-male boards got put on notice by State Street, and if they didn’t act, the financial firm — with its $2.78 trillion in assets under management — voted against them.
What’s next? State Street is now calling on companies in its portfolio to share data about the number of women at all levels of management. State Street will begin to screen and engage public companies, starting in Europe and the United Kingdom. That’s because building a pipeline of female directors begins with having women in management.
“Often when we engage with companies on the issue of board diversity we hear that the biggest challenge is a lack of suitable female candidates,” State Street Global Advisors executive Rakhi Kumar said in a statement. “Our efforts can’t stop at the board level if we truly want companies to adopt policies and practices that will help strengthen gender diversity throughout their organizations, and ultimately contribute to a greater pool of female directors qualified to serve on a board.”
We decided to recap the first anniversary of “Fearless Girl” with key numbers:
787 Companies in the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia with all-male boards that State Street has targeted
511 Companies with all-male boards that State Street voted against for failing to do anything about gender diversity on their boards
152 Companies with all-male boards that have added at least one woman on their board after being contacted by State Street
34 Companies with all-male boards that plan to add a woman to their board in the near term after being contacted by State Street
600+ Companies State Street will begin to engage with on whether they have women in all levels of management.
4.6 billion Twitter impressions of “Fearless Girl” in the three months after her debut
745 million Instagram impressions of “Fearless Girl” in the three months after her debut
39,000-plus signatures on the website Change.org urging a permanent home for “Fearless Girl” in New York City
250 pounds used to make “Fearless Girl.” The “Charging Bull” statue weighs in at more than 7,000 pounds.
1 replica of “Fearless Girl” made of resin. She is well-traveled and attended the Massachusetts Conference for Women in December. She will be on display this week at State Street headquarters in Boston.Shirley Leung is a Globe columnist. She can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @leung.