Companies with more women at the top have better bottom lines. That’s a research-backed fact. And “The Fearless Girl,” a surprise sculpture installation that appeared overnight on Monday in New York’s Financial District, is meant to remind us of that important reality.

The temporary sculpture, designed by Kristen Visbal, shows a young girl standing confidently with her hands on her hips, looking defiantly at Wall Street’s famed Charging Bull. It was installed overnight by McCann New York and their client State Street Global Advisors in time for International Women’s Day as part of a bold and necessary campaign from SSGA: asking the more than 3,500 companies that the financial firm invests in on behalf of clients to actively work on adding more women to their boards, as Adweek reports in this piece.

“A key contributor to effective independent board leadership is diversity of thought, which requires directors with different skills, backgrounds and expertise. Today, we are calling on companies to take concrete steps to increase gender diversity on their boards and have issued clear guidance to help them begin to take action,” Ron O’Hanley, president and chief executive officer of SSGA, said in a statement.

There’s a startling contradiction between what we know about the benefits of women in leadership positions and how many companies actually have women at the top. One study of nearly 22,000 publicly traded companies around the world found that having women in top roles was linked to higher profits. Another study highlighted by Adweek reported that companies with strong female leadership created returns on equity nearly 3 percent higher than organizations lacking female leaders.

But women are alarmingly underrepresented in the highest offices: As Adweek also states, “one in four Russell 3000 companies don’t have even one woman on their board, and nearly 60 percent of boards are less than 15 percent women.”

It’s time we realize that having women in leadership roles isn’t just a gender diversity issue — it’s a company performance issue too. Let’s stop placing constraints, both unspoken and obvious, on women in the workforce so we can all (companies included) reach our full potential.

Read more on Adweek.

Originally published at