Interview with Lynn Blake: The Legacy of Fearless Girl

1. What was your role in making fearless girl into a reality?

I work at the company that commissioned the Fearless Girl: State Street Global Advisors, which is the third largest asset manager in the world. I am closely involved in the two main initiatives that prompted the idea of the Fearless Girl as a symbol of the importance of women in leadership today and in the future. First, we placed the Fearless Girl statue on Wall Street on International Women’s Day in March to symbolize our call to more than 3,500 companies across the US, UK and Australia to increase the amount of women on their corporate boards. We believe that gender diversity benefits investors, businesses, and the economy overall – and this belief is supported by robust research from firms like McKinsey, MSCI, the Peterson Institute, Credit Suisse and Catalyst to name just a few. But despite all of this evidence, hundreds of companies, even in the US, still have zero women on their boards – and we intend to change that through our proxy voting if a Board does not add women directors!

Placing the Fearless Girl on International Women’s Day also coincided with the one-year anniversary of an investment strategy that my team launched in March 2016 called the Gender Diversity Index, implemented through a SPDR ETF with the ticker “SHE”. The Gender Diversity Index strategy identifies and holds US companies that have the highest levels of women in leadership positions within their sectors. Its goal is to do well by doing good, by addressing the social issue of the gender gap in corporate America along with a strong investment thesis that companies with greater diversity lead to better financial outcomes.

2. Did you ever imagine it would provide such an impact or have such a massive following on social media?

Not at all! That was completely unanticipated and quite overwhelming! We certainly hoped the statue would get the attention of Wall Street and financial firms but never expected it to go viral almost immediately. It was really astounding how she grabbed the attention of celebrities and politicians alike such as Chelsea Clinton, Bill de Blasio, Emma Watson, and Jessica Chastain who all tweeted their support and kudos. At last count there have been over 4 billion Twitter impressions. It was truly inspiring and humbling.

3. Did the project meet with backlash or obstacles before it was allowed to move forward? And how did you overcome them?

I’m proud to say there weren’t any major obstacles to getting the statue done. We recognize our levels of diversity are not where we need them to be so we knew that placing the statue could result in criticism of State Street’s diversity levels. But despite that possibility we went ahead with the Fearless Girl because it was an important message to deliver and one that we fundamentally embrace as an organization. I’ve very proud that State Street was willing to be brave in that way.

4. How was the idea for the project formed and what was the inspiration?

There were lots of ideas that were kicked around and some were pretty comical! Ultimately the final idea for a statue of a young girl came from our very creative marketing team working with McCann, an outside advertising firm who then teamed up with the artist, Kristen Visbal.

5. How was the look for the fearless girl chosen?

That was definitely a team effort between McCann and Kristen Visbal who scrutinized every detail from hair to attire to stance in order to create a timeless, confident, and inspiring image that would resonate with a wide audience.

6. How has the process been to make her permanent? And what do you hope for the future of Fearless Girl?

When we placed the Fearless Girl on March 8th we had been granted a permit by the City of New York to keep the statue at Bowling Green for just one week. That was quickly extended to one month because of the overwhelming interest. A grassroots effort was independently launched on to make her permanent – which I believe gathered over 40,000 signatures. There was also continued support by celebrities and politicians, specifically Congresswoman Maloney of New York who held a press conference at City Hall to keep the Fearless Girl on Wall Street. At the end of March, the City of New York extended the permit until February 2018. Even after 7 months since she first was placed in Lower Manhattan, the Fearless Girl continues to be a crowd pleaser with long queues of people waiting to have their photos taken with her. My hope is that she will forever be where she is in Lower Manhattan standing as symbol of the importance of women in leadership today and in the future.

GoVisitNYC would like to thank Lynn Blake, State Street Global Advisors, the City of New York, everyone who was involved in the project, the supporters online and in person, and all the brave women and girls on this planet who choose to stand up for equality.

#GOVISITNYC : Interview: The Legacy of Fearless Girl

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