Intelligence

The Brain Behind the Bronze – Vested Sits Down with Fearless Girl’s Creator Stephen Tisdalle

Elizabeth “Biz” Cozine

Senior Account Executive

In our last blog post, we looked at the symbolic move of everybody’s favorite pint-sized icon, the Fearless Girl, from the Charging Bull to the New York Stock Exchange; and whether the organization’s move to appoint its first female leader was at all influenced by the statue.

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with the brain behind the bronze – State Street Global Advisors Chief Marketing Officer, Stephen Tisdalle – for a firsthand account of the statue’s inception, its influence, and the power of women in leadership roles. Stephen stopped by the Vested office in late May as part of the company’s Lunch and Learn series, where key players in the financial and marketing world share their experience with the staff.

So, where did it all begin?

Fearless Girl was conceived out of a clear State Street Global Advisors communications plan to rally support around women in finance, Stephen said, noting that companies who diversify their staff and leadership often see higher returns for investors. Fiduciary responsibility was the main message. And although State Street Global Advisors had investments that reflected those values and beliefs, Fearless Girl wasn’t self-motivated.

 “Originally, this wasn’t about how our gender diversity was being met or exceeded in the company,” he said, adding this was a common misconception around the statue.

 While Fearless Girl quickly won over the hearts of many New Yorkers, finding a way to represent a female presence in finance that truly resonated wasn’t easy. The team tossed around a variety of ideas on actualizing the gender diversity index, asset stewardship and leadership, including one that involved a big cow statue opposite the Charging Bull—but nothing stuck.

 With a limited budget and quick turn-around time, finally, Fearless Girl was born. The sassy eight-year-old would capture the expression of optimism among young women who weren’t intimidated by large organizations, typically run by men. The goal was to create a meaningful, but likely regionally-focused, statement.

“Worst-case scenario, we figured we’d put her in the lobby of our Boston office,” Stephen, who’s been with State Street Global Advisors since 2016, said. He got his start in marketing after his role in management consulting for British Airways sparked a fascination with what motivated people to choose one airline over the other.

But experience her, they did. The emotional connection to Fearless Girl by native New Yorkers and tourists alike quickly went viral, popping up in major news outlets and across social media.

 One year later and a few blocks away, she’s still a force to be reckoned with. Since Fearless Girl, there’s been a massive push for big brands (transcending beyond State Street’s own clients) to reach out to women for seats on their boards, holding organizations to a standard to commit to prioritizing women’s leadership, and started a meaningful dialogue around the importance of Environmental, Social and Governance funds (ESG).

 “Fearless Girl provided a basis and brand permission to enter into discussions to change the composition of the board,” Stephen said. “We want to become an organic inspiration for that. I also think there are ways that we can draw attention to the broader ESG benefits that are delivered in a portfolio, and Fearless Girl has a role to play there.”

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