Speaker Q&A: Meet Dominica Ribeiro

As we gear up for our 25th Annual Securities Operations Summit, we’ll be highlighting a few of the conference’s featured speakers who will be sharing their insights on the changes disrupting financial services operations. First up in our Speaker Q&A series is Dominica Ribeiro, Head of North America Institutional Marketing at State Street Global Advisors, who will be speaking at the Women’s Breakfast.

Q: We're so excited to have you speak at our 25th Annual Securities Operations Summit! What topics are you planning on discussing in your session?
A: I’m planning on sharing why we developed the Fearless Girl statue, the reasoning behind her placement on Wall Street, and how we as the world’s third-largest asset manager are using our voice to promote the power of women in leadership. I’ll also touch on the ideation process of the Fearless Girl, how she ignited a global conversation around the importance of gender diversity on boards, and the changes we’ve seen since we first set up the statue on International Women’s Day in 2017.

Q: Could you tell us more about the Fearless Girl initiative? What sparked the idea and what does the statue mean to you?
A: At a very high level, the Fearless Girl initiative was created with four objectives:

1. Promote the power of women in leadership and celebrate International Women’s Day
2. Create global awareness of our asset stewardship agenda
3. Enable further discussions with clients about our wider ESG offerings
4. Position State Street Global Advisors as the first call for every institutional investor and intermediary interested in gender-diversity investing

While we were brainstorming with our advertising agency to come up with a campaign that would help us meet those objectives, the idea of Fearless Girl came alive. 

In addition to placing Fearless Girl in the heart of New York’s financial district in March 2017, we called on companies in our portfolio to take steps to increase the number of women on their boards.  Our asset stewardship team identified more than 1,200 companies with no women on their boards and made it clear we would use our proxy voting power to effect change if they failed to act. During the 2017 proxy season, we voted against 500+ companies and another 500+ on the 2018 season.

Since our initial outreach, 301 companies have now added a female director and 28 additional companies have committed to adding a female director in the near term.

As a mother of three children, two of whom are girls, and as a female who has worked my way up to a leadership position, Fearless Girl holds personal significance in addition to its global impact. The Fearless Girl initiative has exposed the fact that women are not making it to the top even though there are many of us who are willing and able. Fearless Girl has shown the next generation of females that change is possible when you stand fearless. 

Q:  How do you see diversity in financial services evolving in the next 3-5 years, and how will that impact the industry?
A: If we continue the status quo, economists project that it would take women 100 years to have the same economic status and opportunities as men. My hope is that we’ll see more women added to boards, senior levels of management, and, in fact, all levels of management to close that gap sooner than anticipated.

Through documented research, we know that companies with gender diversity at the board level and in senior leadership perform better. In the coming years, I expect more companies will see the relevancy of not only gender diversity, but all areas of diversity. A diverse company generates diverse thoughts, and that leads to better ideas with better outcomes. 

Interested in hearing more during Dominica’s session? Registration for the Women’s Breakfast is available here, along with registration for the full three-day conference.