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Global Tax 50 2015: Ya-wen Yang

02 February 2016

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Associate professor of accounting, Wake Forest University

Ya-wen Yang
Ya-wen Yang is a new entry this year

Ya-wen Yang, Coca Cola fellow and associate professor of accounting at Wake Forest University (WFU), flies the flag for academic entrants in the Global Tax 50 2015, along with the UK-based Rita de la Feria and Judith Freedman.

In February 2015, Yang produced a report (co-authored with Andrea Kelton, also from the WFU School of Business and Allison Evans, from the University of North Carolina-Wilmington) which shed new light on the relationships between gender diversity in the boardroom and c-suite and levels of abusive tax behaviour.

The headline findings were that women CFOs in the study were less likely to evade taxes than their male counterparts and that having a 'critical mass' of women making up at least 30% of the board allows a company to reap the benefits of gender diversity.

"Studies have found that men and women make ethical decisions differently and that, overall, women are more ethical and less likely to take risks than men," says Yang.

"We find that at least one female director is necessary if the CFO is also female, thus documenting the importance of women in both executive (CFO) and corporate governance (the board) positions," Yang tells ITR. "Our finding is consistent with research on tokenism and that minority opinions are often ignored."

"We believe this research highlights the need to consider gender diversity across both governance and executive positions and should be of interest to those making hiring decisions and director appointments," she adds.

With company tax affairs being thrust into the spotlight like never before over the past few years, much research has been conducted on the interconnectedness of corporate tax and corporate social responsibility (CSR) in today's world of increasing transparency, but Yang's report brought a fresh viewpoint into focus as part of this discussion.

The paper is now under revision for the second round review at an academic journal, and Yang intends to continue exploring this line of enquiry.

"I am pleased to have the research finding disseminated in your publication," says Yang. "In terms of the direction of future research, I plan to continue exploring the role of board diversity attributes, including demographic attributes such as gender, race and age, and functional attributes – things like experience, expertise, tenure and so on – in corporate decisions and behaviour."

The Global Tax 50 2015
View the full list and introduction
The top 10 • Ranked in order of influence
1. Margrethe Vestager 2. Pascal Saint-Amans
3. Wang Jun 4. Arun Jaitley
5. Marissa Mayer 6. Will Morris
7. Ian Read 8. Pierre Moscovici
9. Donato Raponi 10. Global Alliance for Tax Justice
The remaining 40 • In alphabetic order
Brigitte Alepin Andrus Ansip
Tamara Ashford Mohammed Amine Baina
Piet Battiau Elise Bean
Monica Bhatia David Bradbury
Winnie Byanyima Mauricio Cardenas
Allison Christians Rita de la Feria
Marlies de Ruiter Judith Freedman
Meg Hillier Vanessa Houlder
Kim Jacinto-Henares Eva Joly
Chris Jordan Jean-Claude Juncker
Alain Lamassoure Juliane Kokott
Armando Lara Yaffar Liao Tizhong
Paige Marvel Angela Merkel
Zach Mider Richard Murphy
George Osborne Achim Pross
Akhilesh Ranjan Alan Robertson
Paul Ryan Tove Maria Ryding
Magdalena Sepulveda Carmona Lee Sheppard
Parthasarathi Shome Robert Stack
Mike Williams Ya-wen Yang






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