By Ann Ghanie

It's about time and she’s not backing down. Last week on International Women’s Day a bronze statue of a defiant little girl was revealed by State Street Global Advisors. The art installation was created by artist Kristen Visbal and is positioned to seem as if she is facing off against the charge of the Wall Street Bull. One in four companies in the Russell 3000 index has no women on their boards and almost 60% have fewer than 15% of women on their boards. In 2015, the 2020 Women on Boards Gender Diversity Index of Fortune 1000 companies found that women make up 17.9% of the total number of corporate directors. Compared to the the impact women have made on the U.S. economy: 47% of the entire workforce, 70% to 80% of all purchases, and they hold half of all management, professional and related positions. That number is tiny.

The world’s third largest asset manager, State Street Global Advisors, wanted to bring awareness to gender diversity and promote diverse boards. They are a $2.5 trillion investor unit within State street Corp., and they are rolling out a new campaign to persuade companies to add more women to their boards. The hedge fund stated they would vote against boards if a company failed to have at least one female board member and does not demonstrate that tangible, concrete measures are being taken toward fixing its gender gap. State Street plans to send letters to 3,500 companies asking them to act.

We are living in a new world and women should be treated equally in the workforce. It is important to promote growth and diversity, not just at entry level roles in companies but also at the higher decision making positions. Barclays was the first financial services company to sign up to the UN’s HeForShe campaign when it launched in 2015. Currently their workforce stands at 51% female, 49% male. Twenty four percent of Barclay’s Managing Directors and Directors were female at the end of 2016. That is a three point improvement from 2013 and they are on track to meet their 2018 target of 26%. JP Morgan Chase provides many diversity programs that encourage women to succeed. Two of their most recognized programs are: Women on the Move, an internal program created in 2013 which aims to increase the number of women in senior management positions and their ReEntry program which helps and encourages women return to the workforce after time away to raise children or care for aging parents. Following the trend Bank of America currently has 11 executives, 4 of which are female. Wells Fargo also has 11 executives three of which are female.

Prospect 33 has long history of employing women with an almost even gender breakdown across all of our offices globally though ironically this was never a conscious effort. We have always prided ourselves on hiring the best people and in that process a diverse workforce emerged. One of our initiative that helped shape this culture is our financial executive training program - “The Future Leaders Programme,” - a worldwide initiative that educates and encourages the next generation of industry leaders with an emphasis on female empowerment and diversity in the workplace.

As an industry we have come a long way and we will only continue to grow and change. Spotlights on galvanizing issues like this serve only to unite the major players and strengthen us as we create a better world for all.