Wall Street’s “Fearless Girl” statue became a spectator favorite as a symbol of female empowerment and gender equality, but a federal report found that female employees at State Street, the Boston-based firm behind the bronze girl, were not treated equally.
A federal audit identified that since 2010, State Street paid 305 women executives less than male employees in the same positions and also underpaid 15 black vice presidents, compared to white employees in the same positions.
State Street has agreed to pay out a $5 million settlement to those employees who were found to be underpaid by the audit, conducted by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs.
The employees faced compensation discrimination in senior vice president, managing director and vice president positions, having been paid less in terms of base salary, bonus pay and total total compensation, according to the federal audit.
“OFCCP’s analysis demonstrate that a statistically significant disparity in compensation remained even when legitimate factors affecting pay were taken into account,” the report reads.
State Street agreed to pay the settlement, but still disputes the discrimination findings.
“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,” a State Street spokesperson said 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.”
Some people were concerned that the Fearless Girl statue was a “marketing ploy” from the beginning. Since news of the settlement, critics of the statue and State Street have spoken out.
“Ironic: the Raging Bull is a piece of guerilla art. Fearless Girl is a marketing ploy by State Street, a company that underpays women,” one Twitter user wrote.
“I’m just shocked, shocked to learn that the Fearless Girl statue was a PR stunt,” another said.
“So...the brave “fearless girl” was just for show? The bank is actually a bunch of phonies??? Hahahaha,” read another tweet.
The Fearless Girl, which stands across from Wall Street’s well-known “Charging Bull” statue was funded by State Street and created by the McCann New York advertising agency, and erected on March 8, International Women’s Day.