Company behind "Fearless Girl" to pay $5 million for pay discrimination against women executives

Fearless Girl, the bronze statue put up opposite the “Charging Bull” statue in New York City became a rallying point for feminists. But State Street, the company that commissioned the statue, seems to have fallen short of its own professed ideals. The Boston Globe reports State Street has agreed to a $5 million settlement for pay discrimination against female executives:

In March, an office within the Department of Labor found that State Street had discriminated against women at the senior vice president, managing director, and vice president levels by paying them less than men in similar positions. The agency also claims the company paid black employees less than similarly positioned white employees.

The pay practices covered a two-year period and affected 305 female executives and 15 black vice presidents, the government said. They will receive a total of $4.5 million in back pay and nearly $508,000 in interest.

On Thursday, State Street disputed the federal agency’s findings, but spokeswoman Julie Kane said the company decided to settle the case to bring “this six-year-old matter” to a resolution.

State Street is also required to monitor and submit reports on pay equity to the Department of Labor for the next three years. Fearless Girl was commissioned by State Street to promote a Gender Diversity Index fund which traded on NASDAQ under the letters “SHE.” Blogger Greg Fallis explained the connection back in April:

And that brings us to March 7th of this year, the day before International Women’s Day. Fearless Girl appeared, standing in front of Charging Bull. On the surface, it appears to be another work of guerrilla art — but it’s not. Unlike Di Modica’s work, Fearless Girl was commissioned. Commissioned not by an individual, but by an investment fund called State Street Global Advisors, which has assets in excess of US$2.4 trillion. That’s serious money. It was commissioned as part of an advertising campaign developed by McCann, a global advertising corporation. And it was commissioned to be presented on the first anniversary of State Street Global’s “Gender Diversity Index” fund, which has the following NASDAQ ticker symbol: SHE. And finally, along with Fearless Girl is a bronze plaque that reads:

Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.

Note it’s not She makes a difference, it’s SHE makes a difference. It’s not referring to the girl; it’s referring to the NASDAQ symbol. It’s not a work of guerrilla art; it’s an extremely clever advertising scheme.

The plaque was later removed by the company but the fact remains that this was advertising meant to appeal to women investors. The statue certainly had appeal. It was embraced by the city’s Mayor and, thanks to popular demand, is scheduled to remain on display through February of next year.

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