Women in Tax: A Diverse Workforce is Key to Success

Based on a series of interviews with key decision-makers and stakeholders, our analysis concludes that there is a shortage of female tax professionals in senior roles, particularly in large global accountancy and law firms. Male and female tax specialists start in the field in largely equal numbers, but the percentage of women in top-tier positions decreases to lower than 25%.

Leading female tax professionals worldwide believe that women encounter specific expectations of demeanour and personality from clients. This is reflected differently in certain parts of the world. For instance, in countries across the Middle East, patriarchal values and social norms keep gender parity alive, whereas in the Asia-Pacific region (particularly New Zealand and Singapore) we have seen regional advances to ensure gender equality and promote women’s empowerment. However, as stated in International Tax Review’s ‘Women in Tax Leaders Poll’, female tax professionals across the globe are required to ‘prove that they are equal to male tax practitioners in terms of technical and soft skills’.

The efforts of groups such as ‘Women in Tax’, an independent organisation focused on women’s success and upward mobility in the tax profession, have helped to remind tax specialists how important it is to celebrate the talents of previously underrepresented groups. Moreover, the ‘Women in Tax Leaders’ guide highlights top women leaders who are succeeding in a field that is traditionally viewed as male-dominated. The 2020 edition of the guide includes the names of more than 930 nominated tax professionals from jurisdictions in every corner of the globe.

Why should key stake-holders promote gender diversity in Tax?

Gender diversity is an issue that all companies offering tax services and advisory need to consider if they are to develop a truly dynamic workforce. A diverse workforce creates the potential for better-informed decision-making and a more inclusive set of role models to act as an inspiration to the next generation of tax experts. The goals of diversity should be underpinned by talent development, succession planning and the continuous measurement of results. In today’s rapidly changing tax environment, we are pleased to see in a number of jurisdictions that it is possible for our clients to achieve a diverse environment that stimulates commercial success.

Here are some examples of highly successful female tax leaders who we believe should be spotlighted for their success:

  • Emma Cox is Managing Partner at Deloitte in the UK and sits on the firm’s Executive. She was shortlisted for ‘Role Model of the Year’ at the Women in Accountancy Awards 2020
  • Kristan Rizzolo is a Tax Partner at Eversheds Sutherland with more than 25 years of experience. She heads the firm’s Women’s Leadership Initiative in the US, which aims to revamp female talent programs globally
  • Joanna Santinon is a Tax Partner at EY, who leads a successful part of the UK tax practice in London. Joanna founded the EY FTSE Women’s network and co-chairs ‘The Women’s Network Forum’, a cross industry best practice group

As a global specialist tax search firm, we are regularly engaged in mandates to identify females tax leaders for professionals services firms across the world. We consult our clients to choose gender diverse tax teams not because it is a market trend, but the impact it has on building world-class tax teams to accelerate business growth.

Mason Rak is renowned for tax market intelligence, thought leadership initiatives and global reach. If you would like to have a discussion about how to build a diverse, world-class tax team, please do not hesitate to contact Oleg Rak, Managing Partner, on oleg.rak@masonrak.com or call +44 786 911 3281.