by Janice Reals Ellig
Originally published: April 4, 2017
Defiantly facing the mighty Bull of Wall Street, “Fearless Girl,” the bronze statue installed by the State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) this year on International Women’s Day (March 8) has awakened our senses about where women are not! As men occupy 80% of all S&P 500 board seats, the “Fearless Girl” stands in front of a plaque that reads “Know the Power of Leadership, SHE makes a difference.” The “SHE” etched on the plague represents the stock ticker symbol for SSGA’s Gender Diversity Index ETF, which was developed to measure the performance of U.S. large cap companies that exhibit gender diversity in their senior leadership positions. This powerful investment giant with $2.5 trillion under management challenged 3,500 companies to take “intentional steps” towards reaching gender equality. The SSGA CEO, Ron O’Hanley said, “…we are calling on companies to take concrete steps to increase gender diversity on their boards and have issued clear guidance to help them begin to take action.” BlackRock, the behemoth financial planning and investment management firm with $5.1 trillion under management, also is taking a leadership role in gender equality, indicating it too will look to understand how companies are working to increase boardroom diversity, such as adding more women.