On Tuesday, March 7, State Street Global Advisors unveiled a life-size statue of a young girl confidently staring down Wall Street’s famous “Charging Bull.” The “Fearless Girl,”created by artist Kristen Visbal, was installed on the eve of International Women’s Day to raise awareness of the lack of gender diversity and equality on Wall Street.

A plaque at the girl’s feet states, “Know the power of women in leadership. SHE makes a difference.”

As part of the statue’s introduction, State Street announced a commitment to send letters to 3,500 public companies in an effort to compel them to increase the representation of women on their boards. In its statement, State Street asserted that one in four companies in the Russell 3000 Index still do not have female representation on their boards. Furthermore, the company said it would vote against boards if a company failed to take steps to increase the number of women on its board of directors.

The rationale for pursuing a more balanced representation of men and women in leadership positions spans beyond societal pressure. According to a study conducted by MSCI ESG (Environmental Social Governance) Research, publicly traded companies with strong gender diversity on their boards generated a higher return on equity compared to those lacking females in their board rooms. The study also found that companies that had less gender diversity on their boards of directors experienced a greater number of governance-related controversies. In addition to the MSCI study, other non-financial studies have indicated that board diversity can improve decision-making effectiveness.

Of the 3,000 companies in the Russell 3000 Index, 698 had no female board members as of their 2016 annual meetings. More than 75% of said companies came from just four economic sectors: financials, health care, information technology, and industrials. The fact that companies on Wall Street lack female representation in leadership positions is hardly news, as it has been a male-dominated industry for a very long time.

Silicon Valley also has experienced its share of issues as companies have been ill-prepared to address the complexities that come with rapid corporate growth in male-dominated work cultures. While generally considered a progressive company, Google was forced to navigate a groundswell of negative publicity earlier this summer when a company engineer wrote a memo criticizing Google’s corporate diversity initiatives. It’s clear that some are not ready to adapt to a Corporate America that is more aware of and sensitive to social biases.

Uber, which recently reported second quarter 2017 revenue growth of more than 100%, is undergoing its own culture crisis, brought on by an unrestrained “bro-culture.” A brave female employee voiced her opinion in a blog that detailed her many experiences at the company that left her marginalized and harassed. As a result, CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick resigned.

In a 2010 TED Talk, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg spoke about the lack of gender diversity in Corporate America, calling for women who want to be leaders in their organizations to be bold. But she admitted it is not that easy. Returning to work after having children is difficult and requires sacrifice and balance.

Over time, it is likely that the proportion of women in leadership positions will increase. This will happen slowly, as companies embrace the reality that diversity of leadership leads to higher level decisions and better outcomes. This is a change worth standing up for, just like the “Fearless Girl” who faced down the Wall Street bull.

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Jeanie Wyatt

Jeanie Wyatt is the founder, chief executive officer and chief investment officer of South Texas Money Management.