APH had the honor and privilege of hosting, Dominica Ribiero, Head of North America Institutional Marketing at State Street Global Advisors. She visited APH as part of our Women in Leadership Speaker Series and in conjunction with International Women’s Day. Ms. Ribiero shared the unbelievable story of the “Fearless Girl,” a four-foot bronze statue that started to change the world. She was placed on the northern corner of Bowling Green Park, NYC in March of 2017, the evening of International Women’s Day. The Fearless Girl was not created overnight, even though it was installed in one. No one could have predicted the ripple effects a small statue, strong message, and the well-timed placement would have!

Recently APH had the honor and privilege of hosting, Dominica Ribiero, Head of North America Institutional Marketing at State Street Global Advisors. She visited APH as part of our Women in Leadership Speaker Series and in conjunction with International Women’s Day.  She visited APH to share the unbelievable story of the “Fearless Girl,” a four-foot bronze statue that started to change the world. She was placed on the northern corner of Bowling Green Park, NYC in March of 2017, the evening of International Women’s Day. The Fearless Girl was not created overnight even though it was installed in one. No one could have predicted the ripple effects a small statue, strong message, and the well-timed placement would have!

Fearless Girl was created by State Street Global Advisors to support the firm’s mission statement to “invest responsibly to enable economic prosperity and social progress.” Her message reinforced the mission statement by promoting gender diversity in the workplace and encouraging companies to add more women to their boards. It is a known fact that companies with “women in leadership, especially at the board level, perform better than companies without” women representation. In fact, according to an MSCI research study, companies with strong female leadership generated a return on equity of 10.1% per year vs. 7.4% for those without.

Additionally, the report cited that “academic research in management and psychology has long shown that groups with more diverse compositions tended to be more innovative and make better decisions (some researchers believe that women are more risk-averse).” Interestingly MSCI’s research discovered that companies lacking board diversity suffered more governance-related controversies than average.  

Better performance and risk reduction may have been the original purpose, but State Street Global Advisors Fearless Girl went much further! Seeing the value that a diverse board brings to investors, State Street started to look closely at board structure and found that “in 2017, of the Russell 3000 companies, only 1 in 4 had a female board member.” Recognizing the significant gap, the firm acted and created Fearless Girl. The statue was created with multiple objectives. The first is to create awareness and promote the power of women in leadership; second, create global awareness about the firm’s asset stewardship agenda (board gender diversity); and third, enable the firm to have future discussions with their clients about socially responsible investing.

As soon as the Fearless Girl was installed, there was an explosion from a marketing standpoint! With the key ingredients of relevancy and conviction, the campaign took off immediately after placement and spread across the globe. Dominica explained relevancy-, in this case being an asset manager and knowing that companies with women in leadership perform better than those who don’t – conviction – this wasn’t a “one and done” event, it was about linking back to the value State Street Global Advisors provides to its clients, being focused on gender diversity and promoting the “power of women in leadership.” Furthermore, the firm announced that it was going to use its voice and spread the word about voting to impact change. The firm called on companies without female representation on the boards and asked them to make a change.

The campaign caught the attention of trillions across the globe – and some famous names as well,  such as Ariana Grande, Chelsea Clinton, and Emma Watson (to name a few). These individuals recognized the power of the message of Fearless Girl and shared the message with their entire networks. All happening 100% organically. The right after placement, the site was swarmed by women, men, girls, and boys coming to the statue, standing in the “power pose,” legs apart, hands on hips, head tilted up and taking selfies. As Mrs. Ribiero stated, “it’s about the message,” – and the public definitely got the message. Wikipedia noted that Fearless Girl was meant to send a message about workplace gender diversity and encourage companies to recruit women to their boards.

Friday, March 8th, we celebrated International Women’s Day and the two-year anniversary of Fearless Girl.  This International Women’s Day, State Street Global Advisors brought the Fearless Girl campaign to London where a statue now stands boldly facing the London Stock Exchange to continue expanding the reach of her message. Since first launching the Fearless Girl campaign, 445 companies of the 1,265 identified by State Street Global Advisors have responded to the call to action by either adding a female director or committing to do so.

Lessons learned – Dominica said something that resonated with me, “the drive for greater gender diversity in the workplace is not only the right thing to do, but it’s also the smart thing to do.” Diversity not only includes gender, race, sexual orientation, age, socio-economic status, religious beliefs, and political beliefs,  also, maybe most importantly – diversity of thought. When I think about Fearless Girl I realize how much she has taught me. She has taught me that you can start a conversation and inspire people to change the world. She has taught me to not allow others to limit what I can achieve, to be Fearless, and most importantly – to be me! I am very proud of the impact that Fearless Girl has had and I’m excited to see how she continues to change the world.

Want to learn more about Fearless Girl? See the video illustrating her story.

Written by Kaitlyn Fucillo ‘20