|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."
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