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Friday, March 6, 2020

SSGA Builds a Living Wall Outside the NYSE

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

The State Street Global Advisors (SSGA [profile]) team is giving some living backup to a company-backed icon near Wall Street, celebrating the symbol's third anniversary.

Kristen Visbal's Fearless Girl, with the new living wall
Yesterday morning, before the market opened, the SSGA team installed a "living wall" (of flowers and greenery) behind Kristen Visbal's famous Fearless Girl sculpture that stands in New York City, facing the New York Stock Exchange on Broad Street. Later in the morning, SDPR ETFs Americas distribution chief Susan Thompson and other female members of the SSGA team rang the opening bell at the NYSE.

The living wall prominently features the number "681," which is the number of companies with formerly all-male boards that have added women to their boards since SSGA's campaign on that issue started. The SSGA team is onsite outside the NYSE, offering passersby flowers to add to the living wall and encouraging them to talk about what the Fearless Girl means to them. The living wall will stay up until Sunday, which is International Women's Day.

"For the first time in history, every company in the S&P 500 has a woman on its board," Thompson posted yesterday. "There's still more to be done, but I'm so proud of the progress we've made."

"This moment represents so much more than an anniversary — Fearless Girl is about a smarter way to do business," states Cyrus Taraporevala, president and CEO of SSGA. "due in large part to the broader industry conversation sparked by her installation, there's been a sea change in gender diversity on corporate boards — but this still is just the beginning of this growth story."

SSGA commissioned the Fearless Girl statue in 2017. It was initially installed nearby, staring down the famous Charging Bull statue in Bowling Green Park, and was meant to be temporary. Yet the SSGA team worked with the city, and by the end of 2018 they moved the Fearless Girl to her current home.

"While we've seen impressive results, we know there's more work to be done," states Lori Heinel, deputy global chief investment officer at SSGA. "To that end, we chose a living installation, representing our continued focus on growth and progress." 

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