Wall Street’s Iconic Bull Has a New Girlfriend

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By Ryan Vlastelica | 11:43 am, March 7, 2017

A famous icon of Wall Street has a new friend.

The iconic bronze bull statue, which was surreptitiously installed in December 1989, was just joined by a new arrival, which was put in place Tuesday morning. But whereas the animal, officially named Charging Bull, is meant to represent the prosperity and optimism of bull markets, his new neighbor—a statue of a defiant girl—was designed to call attention to a glaring injustice on the Street.

The statue, which will be a permanent installation, “is intended to symbolize the growing number of women in leadership positions around the world,” read a statement by State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), which sponsored the statue. “It’s also meant to call attention to the existing male-female disparity in that leadership, particularly at the corporate board level.”

The installation was done a day before International Women’s Day.

Not incidentally, Tuesday also marks the first anniversary of the SPDR SSGA Gender Diversity Index ETF SHE, an exchange-traded fund operated by SSGA that only holds companies with women in leadership positions. “SHE,” which is the ticker symbol for the fund, is also the name of the statue, which was designed by Kristen Visbal, a Delaware-based sculptor who left a career in sales and hotel marketing in Washington, D.C. for the art world.

“SHE” is on display at Bowling Green Park, mere steps from the New York Stock Exchange, as well as the Museum of American Finance.

SSGA developed the ETF with Calstrs, the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, and it was originally designed to make a political statement as much as beat the overall market. Calstrs was “very committed to trying to create some kind of investment vehicle where people who cared about gender diversity could go,” said Jenn Bender, director of research of global equity beta solutions at State Street Global Advisors in a September interview with MarketWatch.

However, data have shown that companies with a higher degree of women in executive positions boast statistically significant outperformance. Last month, Morgan Stanley advocated that its analysts look at gender diversity when evaluating companies for their investment prospects. On Tuesday, SSGA said it would vote against companies that don’t have women directors, as part of a push to increase female leadership.

“SSGA will use our proxy voting power to effect change—voting against the Chair of the board’s nominating and/or governance committee if a company fails to take action,” it wrote in a statement.

This article was originally published on Marketwatch.

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