By Maria Rocha-Buschel
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is hoping that the momentum surrounding the Fearless Girl statue will encourage members of Congress to pass legislation beneficial to women. The Congresswoman shared the wish at City Hall this past Monday after announcing that the artwork will stay in its place in front of Wall Street’s Charging Bull until 2018.
“It empowers women in so many fields and now with all the energy around the Fearless Girl, hopefully we can pass my legislation,” she said. “I’m hoping this will spark a movement in Congress to pass legislation I support that focuses on women, like the National Women’s Museum and the Equal Rights Amendment. It inspires us to get out and get things done.”
Maloney said that the statue’s extension was thanks to the mayor and commissioner of the Department of Transportation because the piece was officially accepted into the DOT’s art program.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Public Advocate Letitia James also cheered the extension, and Brewer took the opportunity to mention what’s next on her list in regards to propping women up.
“Using this as a symbol says a lot, but there are not enough statues of historical women in New York,” she said. “That’s my next project.”
At the announcement, Maloney also commended State Street Global Advisors, the asset manager that commissioned the statue, and praised the company’s goal of encouraging other businesses to include more women on their corporate boards.
“It’s an important public policy goal,” she said. “We haven’t been able to pass any of my legislation focusing on women and it’s very difficult to pass legislation that empowers women, but (State Street is) standing for public policy I believe in. A diversified board helps improve the bottom line. You can’t compete and win in a global economy without diverse boards.”
Lynn Blake, executive vice president at State Street, flew in from the company’s headquarters in Boston for the occasion and explained how the asset manager is advocating for women aside from through viral marketing tactics.
“We’ve started a letter-writing campaign (to companies whose portfolios we trade) with the idea of adding women to their boards,” she said of the push.
“We’re creatively engaging with these companies and letting them know what our goals are. If they fail to include women, we will vote by proxy against their board of directors.”
State Street’s engagement with company boards can have tangible consequences, Blake said, because the company has the ability to vote the shares they own in another company against that company’s existing board of directors, which can affect how the businesses operate.
Blake added that the company has proof that letter-writing campaigns have worked, citing a previous push to decrease the number of long-tenured directors on company boards that was successful.
“We have precedent that our voice and vote has an impact,” she said.
Blake said that State Street commissioned the piece, made by artist Kristen Visbal, because the company is committed to gender diversity.
“Our job is to invest in the future,” she said. “There is evidence that having women on corporate boards and in leadership roles is beneficial for the companies overall. Having more women allows for greater diversity of thought and fewer opportunities for groupthink.”