The statue of a young girl challenging Wall Street’s famous charging bull stock market statue was installed with the intention to draw attention to gender inequality and the pay gap in the corporate world.
The Fearless Girl was installed as a promotion for State Street Global Advisors (SSGA), a Boston-based financial services company that invests in businesses focused on gender diversity.
However, the firm has been accused by the US Department of Labor of paying hundreds of female executives less than male colleagues.
The firm has denied any pay discrimination but said it wanted to bring an end to the matter. In a statement to Fortune, the company said it is ‘committed to equal pay practices’ and regularly evaluates if its practices are ‘non-discriminatory.’
State Street agreed to pay a $5 million (£3.8m) settlement to more than 300 high-level female employees in an attempt to settle allegations that it discriminated against hundreds of female executives by paying them less than male colleagues.
However, it’s not the first time that the statue has attracted controversy.
Debuted on International Womens Day in 2017, Fearless Girl started life as a She Fund advertisement. When the statue was installed, a plaque at her feet read: “Know the power of women in leadership. She makes a difference.”
It added that one in four of the 3,000 largest traded US companies did not have even one woman on their board.
But the sculptor behind Wall Street’s Charging Bull statue said that the new sculpture’s presence changes the artistic meaning of his famous statue.
Installed in 1989, the bronze bull was meant to represent the “strength and power of the American people” in response to the market crash in 1987. Arturo Di Modica asked for the Fearless Girl statue to be removed, arguing that the piece exploits his work for commercial purposes and alters the perception of the bull.
Using data from the firm Fund Votes, Bloomberg found that the SSGA agreed to two out of 11 shareholder proposals related to gender pay in 2017 – including at Aetna, American Express, Bank of America, Express Scripts, JP Morgan Chase and MasterCard.