State Street Global Advisors placed a bronze statue of a young girl leaning toward the famous Wall Street bull. She was there for International Women’s Day and got such support that she’ll stay there at least another year. The statue was part of the firm’s push to mandate that firms include female directors.
State Street isn’t being idealistic. It is being smart. It has been persuaded by research that I’ve covered for years. That research shows that companies with more women on their boards, and more women at the senior level, outperform companies with no women at those levels. One recent study by MSCI confirms earlier reports that the “tipping point” comes when there are three women directors – not a single director who is female.
The index-fund giant will enforce its position after giving firms a chance to get their acts together. It will vote against board members of companies who don’t show progress or a good reason not to do so.
It’s great to have a big hitter like State Street on this issue. It’s great to have that bronze girl reminding people that supporting women isn’t just the right thing to do; it’s the smart thing to do.