Business

Investment Firm Behind Feminist ‘Fearless Girl’ Statue Allegedly Underpaid Female Workers

State Street Corp., the investment firm behind Wall Street’s feminist-inspired “Fearless Girl” statue has agreed to pay a $5 million settlement to female and black employees that it allegedly discriminated against.

According to a federal audit, more than 300 women and 15 black employees were allegedly paid less than their white, male counterparts at the $2.6 trillion asset management company.

In a Wednesday filing by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, the firm was audited starting in late 2012, based on data between 2010 and 2011. On March 31, 2017, the same month “Fearless Girl” made her debut, the government informed the firm that it needed to take “corrective actions” for the payment discrepancy.

The feds concluded that since “at least December 1, 2010,” State Street discriminated against women in senior-level roles including vice president, senior vice president, and managing director positions by paying them lower base salaries, bonuses and total compensation than men in “similarly situated” positions. The government office also found that they did the same thing to 15 black employees at the vice president level.

The firm, which commissioned the bronze statue earlier this year to face down Wall Street’s iconic “Charging Bull” statue to promote gender equality, has agreed to pay a combined $5 million to female and black employees that were allegedly discriminated against. It includes $4.5 million in back pay and $500,000 in interest.

While State Street settled, the company officially denies the claims. “State Street is committed to equal pay practices and evaluates on an ongoing basis our internal processes to be sure our compensation, hiring and promotions programs are nondiscriminatory,” said the company in a statement. “While we disagreed with the OFCCP’s analysis and findings, we have cooperated fully with them, and made a decision to bring this six-year-old matter to resolution and move forward.”

The discrimination allegations against State Street depict the company in a very different light than “Fearless Girl” marketing campaign, for which it has earned over a dozen prestigious advertising awards since the statue was erected earlier this year.

Created by McCann New York, the symbol was designed to celebrate feminism and gender equality, and encourage investment in corporations with women in positions of power.

However, its position in front of the “Charging Bull” twisted the meaning of Arturo Di Modica’s sculpture, which was intended as a symbol of the booming economy, and not male dominance or the “Patriarchy,” as feminists have claimed.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken media critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.