Fearless Girl 1

Fearless Girl: Creating Gender Diversity in the Workplace

State Street Corporation

5. Gender Equality

Overview

State Street Corporation is a financial services and bank holding company that is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts with offices and operations worldwide. State Street is the second-oldest continually operating United States bank. It is one of the largest asset management companies in the world with $3.9 trillion under management and $43.3 trillion under custody and administration. State Street Corporation operates in two segments; investment servicing and investment management. Clients include mutual funds, collective investment funds and other investment pools, corporate and public retirement plans, insurance companies, foundations, endowments and investment managers. State Street’s employee base and dedication to their value propositions is a key driver of the firm's success. The Board of Directors’ Human Resources Committee oversees multiple teams that specialize in promoting talent, management and incorporating diversity and inclusion within the workplace. As stated in the firm's 10K is their dedication to cultivating an inclusive culture, “We believe that an inclusive and diverse culture where employees feel valued and engaged will make Street a more desirable place to work, help us attract key talent and retain employees as they grow in their careers and foster an environment that enhances each individual’s productivity and personal satisfaction” (State Street, 2022).

In 2017, overnight on the eve of International Women’s Day, State Street placed a statue in New York’s Financial District to ignite a conversation about the importance of gender diversity in corporate leadership. The Fearless Girl is a statue of a young girl who is standing defiantly with her hands on her hips. State Street specifically positioned the statue in front of the iconic Wall Street statue the Charging Bull to represent the need for gender diversity and equality in the workplace.

Authors

Wasim Mustafa

Wasim Mustafa

Meaghan Curry

Meaghan Curry

Kelsey OBrien

Kelsey OBrien

School

St. John's University

St. John's University

Professor

Charles Wankel

Charles Wankel

Innovation

Curry states in his interview, “I learned about Fearless Girl when it was first launched in 2017. There were a lot of internal and external communications around it. They were stating that the company really wanted to support women and that it was imperative to have more women on boards of directors”. With the unveiling of the statue State Street also announced its Fearless Girl Campaign. State Street informed hundreds of companies with no women on their boards that they were prepared to vote against the chair of their Nominating Committees if they didn’t see action being taken towards gender equality. State Street has been very vocal about how more women need to be in decision making roles and included on boards. State Street has sent out letters to the thousands of companies that comprise the Russell 3000 Index demanding that they take action to increase the diversity of their boards. Through this campaign, State Street is using not only their voice but their vote to encourage portfolio companies to take Sustainable Development Goals’ objectives more seriously, specifically focusing on gender diversity.

Fearless Girl: Creating Gender Diversity in the Workplace

Inspiration

“At State Street, women are very well represented at the top levels of the company. Quite a few executive Vice Presidents and several are on our management committee which is the senior most internal committee. The company also has more women on our board of directors than in the past.” The motivation behind the Fearless Girl Campaign is simple: to diversify financial institution’s boards. There has been a long history of boards at financial institutions mostly being made up of men. Women have historically been underrepresented in leadership positions in financial services, where they generally remain in lower-paying first or mid-level positions. While women made up 54.3 percent of the workforce at S&P 500 finance companies in 2016, only 18.7 percent of S&P 500 finance company boards and only 2.1 percent of CEOs were women. “Clients always ask about the fearless girl campaign and see it in a positive light. The statue is seen by many as a symbol of women empowerment.”

Overall impact

Since the launch of the Fearless Girl Campaign in 2017, 948 of the 1,548 companies identified by State Street as not having a woman on their board have added at least one woman board member. Additionally State Street has voted against the chair of the Nominating Committee of hundreds of companies for not adding a woman board member. “A lot of people are very proud that State Street started this initiative and proud to work for the company. A lot of people include a picture of the statue in their email signatures. We even have a replica of the statue in our chief operations center.” In just five years the Fearless Girl Campaign has had a massive impact on the financial industry and has made immense progress at ensuring the boards of financial institutions are diverse.

The Fearless Girl statue, which has since been moved to stand right outside The New York Stock Exchange, has become a symbol of women empowerment globally. Four years later in 2021, State Street Global Advisors placed broken glass around the statue to represent a new symbol indicating progress in achieving goals of gender equality, and the plaque reads, “Today’s broken glass ceilings are tomorrow’s stepping stones.” The Fearless Girl continues to promote the importance of women in leadership positions and its impact on a firms’ culture. Leadership sets the precedent for the rest of the firm and in State Street continuously dedicating their efforts to promote gender equality and inclusion for women, the benefits are carried down the value chain and felt through the entire employee base.

Business benefit

A 2020 McKinsey report indicated that companies that incorporate gender diversity can be up to 50% higher in profitability. Prioritizing gender diversity is a form of enterprise risk management in which the Board of Directors and senior management enforce strategy that sets precedent and impact throughout the entire firm. Restructuring the firm and realigning cultural values can help mitigate reputational risk of the firm and can lower the risk for class actions, or derivative demand cases which specifically address the faults within upper management that have a direct impact on the firm’s material value and workplace environment. Within D&O litigation, the Board of Directors are named within the suits and more specifically ESG- related issues are on the forefront of litigation within the Biden Administration. State Street taking an early approach in 2017 to their ERM strategies, and being on the forefront of addressing gender inequality with the Fearless Girl Statue helps mitigate the risk for lawsuits surrounding their oversights on societal issues, as they have attacked such head on with the Statue. Curry states in his interview, “Women are very well represented at the top levels of the company. Quite a few executive Vice Presidents and several are on our management committee which is the senior most internal committee. The company also has more women on our board of directors than in the past.” State Street has addressed inclusion within their mission statement, and CEO Ron O’Hanley signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion which is the largest CEO-driven effort to push progress in the business world. Diverse workplaces allow for additional talent, skill sets, and not just the board of directors influencing every business decision, but rather the team members working in collaboration for the common goals. Within the company and daily practices are opportunities for employees to serve one another, which yields the importance of hiring the right people for the right jobs. It is important for executives such as the CEO and the head of HR to work for the people and to align their intentions in seeking driven employees who fully align with a company’s innovative culture.

Social and environmental benefit

Implementing strong ESG efforts within a firm leads to further success within the business and to society as a whole. Strong societal efforts to promote diversity, inclusion and gender equality within companies can lead to stronger mental health, safety, and comfort of employees and create loyal employees that are motivated by State Street’s dedication to attack such societal issues. A lesson we learn in our youth, treat others how we would like to be treated is translated into each interaction we have with others. It is important to treat all individuals with respect, not simply those one wishes to impress. In fostering an organization with respected individuals, it is important to not only bring in team members with the same values, but to create an environment where they feel respected to make decisions and empowered to do so. Leaders can grow consumed with company growth, capital models, digitalization and extending their resources to further compete in the marketplace, yet the people invested within the organization are a leader’s strongest resources. The financial industry is founded and continued upon interpersonal relationships, between customer and client, but more importantly executives and their employees. State Street attacks a societal dilemma head on with their Fearless Girl Campaign and infiltrates a message promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace that inspires other organizations to stand behind this UN Goal and implement their own practices of gender equality.

Interview

Michael Curry, Deputy Chief Information Security Officer

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State Street Corporation

State Street Corporation

New York City, NY, US

Business Website: https://www.statestreet.com/home.html

Year Founded: 1792

Number of Employees: 10000+

State Street Corporation is a financial services and bank holding company that is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts with offices and operations worldwide. State Street is the second-oldest continually operating United States bank. It is one of the largest asset management companies in the world with $3.9 trillion under management and $43.3 trillion under custody and administration. State Street Corporation operates in two segments; investment servicing and investment management. Clients include mutual funds, collective investment funds and other investment pools, corporate and public retirement plans, insurance companies, foundations, endowments, and investment managers. State Street’s employee base and dedication to its value propositions is a key driver of the firm's success.