Last Tuesday, a day before International Women's Day and a coinciding Women's Strike, a statue of a small girl, shoulders defiantly squared, appeared head-to-head with the bronze-testicled Charging Bull of Wall Street. Multi-trillion asset manager State Street Global Advisors and NY advertising firm McCann are behind artist Kristen Visbal's installation, which is accompanied by a plaque advertising State Street, embellished with a platitude about women in leadership. While there are no shortage of empowering selfies on Instagram, critics have dismissed as toothless any rebuke of Wall Street culture sponsored by Wall Street itself.
Love her or hate her, "The Fearless Girl" is currently only permitted to stay for one month, up from an initial one-week permit. But now Public Advocate Letitia James is calling on the Mayor's Office to make the statue a permanent Wall Street fixture.
"Perhaps the strongest influencers to promote corporate diversity are the corporations themselves," James said in a statement to Gothamist. "State Street Global not only created this symbol of diversity, but is putting its money where its mouth is. More companies should follow suit."
As for the company's unsavory past—State Street has paid millions in fines for its implication in a mortgage scandal that hit pension holders—a spokeswoman for the advocate said James is more interested in the company's current efforts to increase diversity on corporate boards (its own currently has three women, out of a total 11 members). The company is now focusing its investment on companies in its portfolio with women board members.
"Today, we are calling on companies to take concrete steps to increase gender diversity on their boards and have issued clear guidance to help them begin to take action," said Ron O'Hanley, CEO of State Street, in a recent statement to Fortune.
In her letter to the Mayor, James noted that about 60 percent of publicly traded firms have no women on their boards. She went on to refer to the statue as "a powerful beacon, showing women... that no dream is too big and no ceiling is to high."
The Mayor's Office didn't immediately comment on Fearless Girl's fate, but de Blasio spokeswoman Olivia Lapeyrolerie told the Daily News that the city isn't planning to extend the permit. If this position stands, there are about three weeks ticking down on the selfie clock.