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Unfinished business: change in the US securities industry since 2008

- Dariusz Wójcik, Theodor Cojoianu -

Sculpture: Kristen Visbal - Photo: Federica Valabreg

On 7 March 2017, the eve of International Women’s Day, State Street Global Advisors, the asset management business of State Street Corporation, issued a call to more than 3,500 companies they invest in on behalf of their clients to increase the number of women on corporate boards. At the same time the company installed a bronze statue of a determined-looking young Latina girl in Lower Manhattan, staring down the sculpture of the Charging Bull – a long-standing symbol of Wall Street (Friedman, 2017). The Fearless Girl, as it was called, quickly struck a chord with New Yorkers and tourists alike, and generated $millions worth of free publicity for State Street. It also offers us an evocative background against which to summarise our findings and reflect on their implications.

First of all, the Fearless Girl symbolizes the challenge to the lack of diversity, which has corrupted the financial sector, and particularly high finance. As our results show, since 2008 the share of women in the securities industry employment has fallen, while their remuneration and representation in corporate decision-making have improved only marginally. The economic reality of shrinking markets and job cuts prevailed over calls for more diversity. Many financial services companies argue that this is a consequence of the “glass ceiling”, and not a reflection of their remuneration practices at the same job level.

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