|Heather Self is a new entry this year|
The Women in Tax network has grown in size and reputation in 2016 and, as one of the founding members, Heather Self has been a key person in driving its growth since its conception in 2015.
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," Self said.
With more than 30 years' experience in international tax, Heather became fed up of attending tax events will all-male panels. "Women in Tax was a reaction to all-male panels and a particular event in the summer of 2015 where not only did it have an all-male panel but the chairman praised his balanced panel. At that point a small number of us said, enough is enough. We said to each other is there a network for women in tax and if not should we see if there is any interest in starting one?" Self explained.
"Those of us who started it off were mainly people at later stages of our careers who haven't been quite the first women to reach senior levels, but have been relatively rare. We now very much want to provide support to younger women and say it can be done and that we're here to support and help. It's a really supportive network."
Self offers her experience to other members of the network working in international tax and as a regular panel speaker at tax events, as well as a commentator on BBC News.
Women in Tax has grown and now has branches in multiple cities in the UK including London, Manchester, Bristol and Leeds. Since its launch in November 2015, the network has held several successful events in Manchester and London and regularly holds technical breakfast meetings in Leeds.
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 has 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.
"I've also noticed that it's not just women but also men commenting on all male panels. I think all-male panels are becoming more noticeable," she said. "We are starting to develop the power of the network and I'm pleased that this is something that has taken off and is really meeting a need."
In 2017, Self plans to target the international sphere with Women in Tax, hoping to find interested people to set up their own branches in other countries that can connect with the network. This becomes more of a likelihood as the network begins to succeed in its aim. In addition, Self said the network would like to hold its international event in 2017, following the sell-out success of functions held across the UK.
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