ITR celebrates International Women’s Day 2022
To mark International Women’s Day 2022, ITR showcases some of the best talent across the global tax sector through interviews, articles and panel discussions.
There may be more talented women in the tax profession in 2022 than ever before. Yet women across the tax industry still face a glass ceiling and a pay gap, among other forms of discrimination and inequality. Fortunately, there is increasing awareness and more groups working to give women platforms to ensure their voices are heard.
Nevertheless, the results of the Women in Tax Leaders survey suggest there is still a lot of work to do. “The hardest part of becoming a female leader was being strong and decisive without causing offence, because I was held to a higher standard than my male colleagues,” said one tax leader.
“Men would say I was unprofessional, lacking executive presence, or unable to control my emotions,” she said.
The glass ceiling still exists. Women who are successful during their early career are often unable to progress beyond the senior manager level because of personal priorities.
“As a young tax partner, I was growing my family and went on maternity leave twice in four years. After each leave, I had to change my focus within tax and was asked by my firm to give up clients to others,” said one tax professional.
“Each time, I re-learned and re-built my practice. It was hard. I felt disadvantaged and preyed upon, for lack of a better word,” she added.
“Considering that, and looking at my success today, it is the breadth of my experience that is sought out to lead clients and is indisputably an asset for me now,” she explained.
More needs to be done to ensure there are more women at partner or executive level, while also ensuring there is wider diversity based on race, ethnicity, sexuality, and age.
Women in Tax
ITR’s Women in Tax conferences are coming back to the US in May 2022. The East Coast forum will take place in New York City on May 10, followed by the West Coast forum in Palo Alto on May 24. These events will combine high-level panel discussions and networking.
The 2021 Women in Tax forums covered the most important issues tax professionals face day-to-day from technical matters to leadership skills. More than 240 tax practitioners from across Europe tuned in to hear the panelists discuss everything from increasing tax transparency measures to the best way to implement tax technology projects for long-term success.
TP compliance was also on the agenda as tax authorities gear up for audits following the COVID-19 pandemic. Tax directors also discussed career progression and offered advice for other women in tax who are looking to advance their careers or support their team to do so.
One workshop focused on the importance of leadership in tax teams, while a second covered the importance of demanding opportunities to ensure that no members of the team are overlooked. The next forum will be revisiting these discussions.
A long way to go
Every year ITR runs its diversity and inclusion (D&I) survey looking at how the state of diversity in the tax industry and how the sector has progressed. Almost 400 tax professionals from more than 40 countries responded to the 2021 survey, sharing their views on a range of questions about their experiences with diversity in the workplace.
When asked what kind of discrimination happens the most within the tax sector, gender discrimination topped the list. The survey found that 50.9% of respondents had experienced or witnessed gender-based discrimination in the workplace. Even in diverse workplaces, gender pay disparity is widespread.
The survey found that 69.1% of respondents worked at organisations where there was an initiative for women, but that the initiative had no visible impact.
“As recently as three years ago, there were men doing the same role as me, with less experience, but with a higher bonus percentage. I only found out because my bonus got automatically upgraded just before our gender pay reporting,” said a UK tax professional.
“While it’s positive that it got addressed, it shouldn't have needed a public report for pay to be fair,” she added.
Discrimination persists in many countries. “Most corporates do not want to even consider women candidates,” said an Indian tax professional.
The survey found that 39.6% of respondents said that parental and carer responsibilities also negatively affected their tax careers. But just 30.1% of respondents said that their companies had initiatives for parents and carers as part of their D&I policy.
Women are especially discriminated against based on biological factors like pregnancy and the menopause. “I suffered discrimination in an employment selection process because I had just come back from maternity leave,” said a Brazilian tax lawyer.
Out of 169 respondents, 77.5% said that their company had a diversity and inclusion policy. While this might indicate a positive trend in the tax industry, when compared to the results from the 2020 survey, not much has changed.
In fact, while 49.4% of the respondents in 2020 said that their company was doing enough to promote diversity and inclusion, the 2021 survey found the same percentage (albeit with a smaller response sample).
The results suggest that there are still many problems in the sector. The same percentage of respondents (77.5%) that said their company has a D&I policy in place stress that discrimination against certain individuals or groups still existed in the tax sector.
ITR will be opening its D&I survey for 2022 soon. Watch this space.