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SSGA unveils new Fearless Girl statue in London, touts gender diversity efforts

Some 423 companies in which State Street Global Advisors is invested have responded to the money manager's call to add a female director to a previously all-male boards in 2018 up from 301 a year earlier, the firm said as it unveiled a new Fearless Girl statue in London's Paternoster Square on Tuesday.

In 2018, 318 U.S. investee companies added a female director to their boards in response to SSGA's Fearless Girl campaign to increase the number of women on corporate boards, compared with 215 U.S. companies in 2017, SSGA said. Some 20 Canadian companies added a female director in 2018, up from 13 a year earlier. Twenty-six Australian companies added a female director in 2018, compared with 21 a year earlier.

"Studies have shown that companies with greater gender diversity at the senior leadership levels generate better returns than their peers," said Lori Heinel, SSGA's deputy global chief investment officer, commenting on the Fearless Girl's arrival in London. "That drives our conviction to continue our engagement and voting efforts as we look to make further progress on this important topic."

Starting in 2020 in the U.S., U.K. and Australian markets, and in 2021 in Japan, Canada and continental Europe, SSGA will vote against all board members if a company does not have at least one woman on its board and has not engaged in dialogue about board diversity with the money manager.

Catherine McGuinness, chairwoman of the policy and resources committee at City of London Corp., said in response to the unveiling: "This builds upon the City of London Corporation's continuing efforts to increase the recognition of women in the city's public realm."