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Fearless girl indeed.
Fearless girl indeed.

Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

Don’t talk the talk unless you can walk the walk. 

State Street Corp., the financial services firm behind the Wall Street statue of the “Fearless Girl,” will pay $5 million after a Department of Labor investigation found the firm underpaid female and black executives. 

The $5 million will go to 300 women who worked for the firm. State Street hasn’t admitted any wrongdoing—instead, it’s just agreed to pay the settlement. But the investigation found that women in senior leadership roles at the company received lower base salaries, bonus pay, and total compensation since at least December 2010. 

State Street set up the statue near Wall Street’s “Charging Bull” in honor of International Women’s Day in March. Lots of people immediately loved the statue, but it set off alarm bells for some. Why a girl and not a woman? Does a statue actually “raise awareness and drive a conversation around the need to improve gender diversity in corporate leadership roles”? Why was a financial services firm doing this at all? 

The Department of Labor proved that some skepticism was warranted. PR-friendly moves to support women in the workplace don’t mean much when you don’t pay employees equally. And State Street commissioned the statue after inquiries into its pay practices were already underway. 

Advocating for improved paid family leave, schedules that support working parents, and crackdowns on sexual harassment might be better uses of vast corporate resources than a tiny, nonthreatening statue. 

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