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Firm behind 'Fearless Girl' nixed pay-equality resolutions, says report

The New York company's voting record came to light just before Equal Pay Day.

fearless girl

The Fearless Girl statue now stands outside the New York Stock Exchange. 

Timothy A. Clary/Getty Images

Tuesday is Equal Pay Day. The topic, trending on Twitter, puts a spotlight on the pay disparity between women and men. While more attention is being focused on the inequality in pay, not every company is putting its money where its mouth is.

A report published Tuesday by investment-research company Morningstar said that State Street Global Advisors, the New York company that commissioned the Fearless Girl statue, voted against a number of gender diversity initiatives.

The bronze Fearless Girl statue, created by Kristen Visbal and installed in 2017, stood defiantly in front of the Charging Bull in Manhattan's Financial District. It became a tourist attraction and was seen by some as a symbol for women in leadership. It was moved in December to the New York Stock Exchange.

Morningstar's report found that State Street's Gender Diversity fund, known as SHE, didn't have a voting record in line with its stated goals of "closing the gender gap" by "strengthening gender diversity and inclusion practices across corporate America." SHE voted no or abstained on eight of the 10 gender diversity-related shareholder resolutions in a four year period, according to Morningstar.

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for State Street said that examining its voting record based on shareholder proposals doesn't tell a complete story on how the company approaches gender issues.

"We do not simply consider the topic being addressed in a shareholder proposal when deciding how to vote, rather we vote on a case-by-case basis, taking into account each company's unique circumstances and the level of disclosure relative to our expectations," the company said.

State Street said it has been vocal about the importance of diversity the last few years and voted against directors over "1,000 times" for lack of board gender diversity. 

Equal Pay Day is an annual maker that symbolizes how far into a year women would have to work in order to have earned as much as men did in the previous year. So, for a white woman to match a white man's 2018 salary, she'd have had to work through 2018 and continue on till April 2. The exact day can change every year, and it also varies depending on ethnicity. In 2019, black and Asian women reach parity in August, while Latinas don't reach parity until November.

Originally published April 1 at 11:23 a.m. PT.
Update, 1:06 p.m.: Adds comment from State Street. 

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