|Heather Self was also in the Global Tax 50 2016|
The Women in Tax network is going from strength to strength and continues to grow in size and reputation.
As one of the founding members, Heather Self has been a key person in driving its growth since its conception in 2015, and her work is an inspiration to many. Her efforts in bringing women working in tax together across the UK has allowed many to gain confidence, learn new skills and network with like-minded individuals to share views and experiences. All this, a day job at Pinsent Masons, and a very active Twitter account that has more than 16,000 followers that raises awareness of the group and other tax matters have earned Self a spot on the Global Tax 50 for the second consecutive year.
Talking to International Tax Review about the success of the group, Self says: "I think we've become well-established and better-known – with recognition such as this being a key part of that. We've now got branches in Manchester, Leeds, Bristol, West Midlands and East Midlands as well as London, not to mention over 2,000 followers on Twitter!"
The objective of the network is to both raise the voice of women within the tax sphere and support women working in the field. The network's meetings involve discussions on tax issues with expert women speaking, rather than discussing women's issues. It's about making sure that women are getting equal recognition – a value that ITR shares.
Reflecting on the success of the Women in Tax group, Self says that it is partly down to luck. "We seem to have struck a chord, and have capitalised on a wider movement to ensure women are more visible and are recognised for their achievements. But we've worked hard to stay friendly and accessible, and to keep the bureaucracy to a minimum. New groups are set up in response to someone saying 'Is there a branch in my region?' with the inevitable answer being 'Not yet – would you like to start one?'"
"I hope we'll see another two or three groups spring up – perhaps in Scotland or Wales. We've also had some overseas enquiries from places as widely-spread as Sweden, the US and Australia – we had a great breakfast with some visiting Australian barristers! But I don't think we want to build an empire – we will be happy for overseas groups to learn from our experience, and to set up whatever works for them locally – that's something to work on next year."
The establishment of the Women in Tax network was a reaction to all-male panels and a male-dominated industry. The interest in the women's network and its growth highlights how important this movement has been so far and will continue to be.
The network has an active committee in London, as well as a number of volunteers organising events for groups based outside the capital.
Self, a familiar voice on Twitter, has keenly utilised the social media site to promote the network throughout the UK and internationally. Since Women in Tax was launched, Self's efforts in promoting the network have raised significant awareness. So much so that she has been approached by multiple organisations looking to balance their panels with expert women at their events.
The success of the network has raised interest worldwide. "We are getting better at sharing information and good ideas, but I think we could do more – we're trying to ensure that local groups can benefit from each other's experience, so that if a topic works well in one group we can repeat it elsewhere," Self says.
"I hope that we are building a real community, and achieving our goal of raising the voice of women in tax, and being a supportive network for all women working in tax," Self concludes.
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