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Global Tax 50 2015: Ya-wen Yang

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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