After taking over Wall Street, the Fearless Girl has invaded Cannes.
Asset manager State Street – and advertising agency McCann New York – put a bronze statue of a defiant girl in front of Wall Street’s iconic charging bull statue in February. It was part of a campaign by State Street to pressure companies to add more women to their boards (and of course draw a little attention to itself). Now, the statue is sweeping the Cannes Lions, the biggest annual gathering of executives from the advertising and media industries, picking up the Grand Prix in the Glass, PR and Outdoor Lions categories on the festival’s first day itself.
The sculpture was created by artist Kristen Visbal as a way for the State Street to call attention to the lack of gender diversity in boardrooms. The money manager cited gender diversity as a way to improve company performance and increase shareholder value, and said it would vote against boards if a company failed to take steps to increase its number of members who are women.
“Its simplicity in the use of symbolism transcends geography, it transcends language, it transcends culture,” Wendy Clark, CEO of DDB North America and the Cannes Glass Lions jury president, told Adweek. “For us, while it is a girl, it elegantly captures women’s journeys and our path to empowerment. And it also encapsulates our hopes and our ambitions for every little girl in the world.”
Clark also called attention to business results for State Street, including a 374 percent increase in the size of the so-called SHE fund – its SSGA Gender Diversity Index.The index tracks the performance of U.S. companies that are leaders in advancing women through gender diversity on their boards and in senior leadership positions. Of course, a single statue won’t solve this problem – even at State Street, which itself is run by a leadership team that is 82 percent male.