The firm that brought us ‘Fearless Girl’ was underpaying women, U.S. government says
By Mary Hui October 6 at 1:21 AM
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Statue of girl stares down Wall Street bull for Women’s Day
Placing the diminutive, grade school-aged girl in front of the massive bull on the eve of International Women’s Day was a way of calling attention to the lack of gender diversity on corporate boards and the pay gap of women working in financial services, a spokeswoman for State Street Global Advisors said. (Reuters)
The financial services firms that introduced the world to “Fearless Girl” will pay $5 million to settle federal allegations that female executives were paid less than men in the same positions.
The agreement follows an audit by the Department of Labor in which investigators say that State Street Corporation has discriminated against more than 300 female and 15 black senior-level employees since Dec. 1, 2010, paying them less in base salary and bonus pay per year than white male colleagues, even “when legitimate factors affecting pay were taken into account.”
These individuals will receive back pay with interest from the settlement fund.
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In an email statement, State Street said it disagreed with the agency’s findings but “made a decision to bring this six-year-old matter to resolution and move forward.” It did not admit wrongdoing in the agreement.
The deal marks a public relations blow to a firm that has been outspoken about its mission to increase gender diversity in corporate boardrooms.
This year, a subsidiary of the Boston-based firm famously commissioned a 50-inch bronze statue, the “Fearless Girl,” to face off against Wall Street’s iconic Charging Bull, as part of an advertisement campaign on National Women’s Day.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio posed for pictures with the pint-size statue.
“Fearless Girl” was a potent symbol proving that women can — and should — be an important part of the financial sector, the firm previously told The Post.
Companies with diverse leadership teams perform better over the long term and make better investments, the firm said.
As part of its aggressive push to increase the number of women in prominent leadership positions, State Street has called on companies to add more women onto their boards. It also looked for ways to invest in companies that had women in prominent positions.
In its campaign for greater gender diversity, State Street has also had to come to terms with its own shortfalls. At the time “Fearless Girl” attracted international attention, the bank only had three women on its 11-member board of directors and five women on its 28-member leadership team.
Last year, the firm launched its SPDR Gender Diversity exchange-traded fund. The fund, known as SHE, tracks a basket of stocks of 100-plus companies that the firm judges as industry pioneers in putting women in leadership positions.
However, Bloomberg News reported that the firm has more often than not voted against gender pay shareholder proposals, according to Fund Votes.
As part of the settlement, State Street must also conduct an analysis of pay for current senior-level employees and make salary adjustments for “any statistically significant compensation disparities.”
Renae Merle contributed to this report.