As part of our commitment to expanded coverage and learning more about the markets we cover, we are providing the results of our latest Women in Tax Leaders Survey. We invited all the currently ranked Women in Tax Leaders to take part in the survey and provide feedback on their experiences working as a woman in the tax industry. This poll takes in views from jurisdicitions all over the planet and helps to build a picture of the current situation women working in tax.



Hidden Voices

As part of our Women in Tax Leaders Survey, we asked participants to provide anonymous feedback on some of the specific challenges they faced as a woman working in the tax industry. The responses came in from all over the world and show there are both shared experiences in every jurisdiction and unique challenges in many different places. Below is a selection of the different messages we received.

When I started in a new company as the new tax director, we had a meeting with our external advisers and some tax professionals from the HQ. The partner and the tax consultants (all male) from the tax/accounting firm literally ignored me, didn't ask my name, didn't introduce themselves to me. I made a lot of comments and questions, challenging what they were presenting, and they were just trying to convince my male tax colleague. At a certain point, my colleague said: “You should not try to convince me, you should convince her, she is the boss.” To note, I had a higher role than the man from the global team. After that, they clearly tried to reverse the situation but it was not possible anymore as it was really clear how sexist they were.

When I gave a planning idea, nobody seems to be interested in understanding more about it, but when my male colleague brought it up, he won a prize.

I wish there was more awareness on the fact that women contribute to teams' business success with their unique skills.

I am proud to be part of a law firm that respects and values women and consider us for our talents without any difference compared to other collaborators, and transmit it to our clients.

Maintaining the appropriate tone of voice to give feedback on dense and complex subjects to a male audience, who can be noisy and inattentive, and that tries at all times to demoralise the female voice for being the bearer of bad news – or rather the news that is as it is but which causes frustration – is an eternal and immense challenge.

Gender equality is still a challenge not only in the tax industry but in the whole work environment. Breaking biases is the most important roadblock. And speaking up alone is really challenging as sometimes it sounds like a threat to hierarchy or that we are playing as victims. How to defend the cause in an inclusive and collaborative way that people feel motivated to support is the biggest challenge for me.

The tax profession has changed significantly in the last 25 years for the better. There isn’t a better profession for women to have it all than tax consulting.

As a tax partner in a consulting firm, I had the opportunity to work with wonderful international clients when I was younger that were crucial to my career development. Specific and public positive feedback on my work gave me invaluable power in my firm that I could leverage from whenever I needed to balance personal/family needs.

Being a successful female lawyer is in itself a challenge. Doing it in the tax industry, a male dominated area, is a 24-hour job.

Most markets in the Asia-Pacific region have been friendly to female practitioners in the tax profession. I am glad to see not only an increasing number of female tax practitioners, but also more women being promoted to leadership positions. While these are positive moves for female practitioners, employers should still be mindful to create a flexible working environment to serve female practitioners' family needs at different stages of their life.

I was a partner at one of the best law firms in my country for more than 15 years and decided to leave to found a new firm due to the sexist behaviour of several partners and the lack of truth in the instituted diversity committees, since they were created solely to meet market needs and not to address issues and change the mindset and practice of partners, lawyers and other employees.

For some women, it is hard to support other women. I actually have been recognised and supported more by men.

Many female tax practitioners who are part of the ‘sandwich generation’, where we are the primary caregivers taking care of young kids and also taking care of ageing parents, face particularly unique challenges. We are not always able to devote our complete and immediate attention to getting up-to-speed on the ever-changing tax landscape through domestic and global tax legislative changes, and this sometimes impedes our ability to advance at the same pace as our male counterparts who do not have primary caregiver responsibility over kids and ageing parents.

What I still see very present in assessments, is that female achievements are not valued as males’ are. Female lawyers still have to do 110% to be recognised, while male lawyers can do 70%, and they will be valued. Unfortunately, women are more valued for the quantity they do, and that they can stand, while men are perceived as focused, and as leaders.

I believe we've got a long way to go to be in a better position today, but we need to keep fighting to get top positions in private and public companies, government, organisations, etc.

For me, one of the biggest challenges for a tax professional is to balance personal and professional life. To be able tô meet so many personal, familial and professional demands, always with a smile on my face and always available. Besides all the pressure, we still have to deal with impostor syndrome, always doubting our capacity.

Generally, I have not been exposed to personal challenges. However, if there is something I would change it would be that men understand the need to give women the opportunity to speak. Too often they talk over women or don't leave space for them. This stops development and prevents advancement.

Women face a more challenging environment in the tax industry, since it is still dominated by men occupying higher positions in law firms, auditing firms, companies, etc., especially in Latin America. Female leaders should make room for younger women to thrive in this environment.

Gender inequality is corny, obsolete and unjustifiable.

I have been extremely successful, which I could not have done without the support of my husband, who picked up the slack for me at home with our children and chose a less demanding career to give me the space to excel. I still have a long history of being taken less seriously than is warranted throughout my career.

The Covid pandemics evidenced how difficult it is for a woman to have a leadership role in a professional field and have a personal life with kids – at that time, men could feel how tough it is.

I was not hired for a job just because at my age I was supposed to intend to get pregnant. And that was said to me in an interview. I have a great experience in tax, but while competing with a man in an interview for a new job, I usually lose to him.

On a relative basis to other practice areas in law, the nature of tax work in the legal industry tends to provide better prospects for work-life balance, as the practice area generally allows for more predictability, which can often be the biggest challenge to achieving work-life balance.

The first time I attended an international meeting in a tax organisation I was quite young and all the attendants were male. They started to distribute some information and did not gave it to me, because they thought that I was the translator! After a couple of years, I manage to have an influence in such meetings and they come to me to ask for my opinion on the topics under discussion.