International Women’s Day 2024: Why We Should Invest in Women in Tax

nternational Women’s Day 2024: Why We Should Invest in Women in TaxToday, we’re taking a moment to celebrate the incredible contributions of all our women colleagues who have helped shape and elevate Ryan.

As a global leader in tax, it’s no secret that gender disparity exists in our industry; however, it’s encouraging that the latest statistics show things are improving, with 45% of taxation experts and 45% of accountants being women. Across the board, women professionals do still face significant barriers in their careers in comparison to their male counterparts, with just 10% of CEOs at UK FTSE 350 companies being women.

This is why this year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) theme Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress is vital for driving awareness and encouraging change.

At Ryan, we strive to create an inclusive culture, whereby we close the gender pay gap and encourage diverse teams at the highest levels. We are fortunate to have some truly inspirational women in the company. This year’s theme underscores the profound impact of championing women’s inclusion. By prioritising gender equality and empowerment, we’re not just enhancing our workplaces but also actively shaping a better world.

We’re immensely proud of our recognition as one of Fortune’s Best Workplaces for Women™ for six consecutive years, a true testament to our ongoing commitment to creating an inclusive culture where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

What Does IWD 2024 Mean for Women at Ryan? 

We spoke to some of the inspirational women at Ryan to gather their thoughts on this year’s theme.

Mariana Principe, Senior Director/Head of Compliance, VAT Compliance, Consulting, and Recovery

As the leader of the compliance department, I believe we should invest and support women in the more challenging moments of their professional careers. If we identify that there are additional obstacles/barriers, we should create the mechanism to support and minimise those. 

One of the challenging moments for women is returning to work after maternity leave. In the compliance department, we consider it crucial to support women dealing with this special moment. We created a re-onboarding plan for women who return from maternity leave, so they can “step by step” return to work. This includes training, so they are aware of any updates or changes in VAT, updated on new procedures in the department, and updated on the new IT tools that we use to deliver the compliance work.

This requires a significant time investment from the managers, the company, and the entire team, but one we feel is beneficial. I heard nothing but positive feedback from our colleagues who have returned from maternity leave. They recognised the investment from the Firm and shared how this was really useful for them, not only to return to “work life” but also readapt the balance between work life and their new reality as mothers.

As a woman working in tax, I pride myself on setting an example by challenging assumptions and stereotypes about male-dominated roles and workplaces. I believe that we can do this in the different dimensions of our lives: in the professional part with our colleagues, in friendships with our friends, with the people we deal with daily (coffee, grocery, pharmacy, etc.), and, very important for me, with our family. I am a mother of two girls, and I consider that the example that parents provide is crucial for their growth, confidence, and values definition.

Here is my own experience as a woman working in a male-dominated industry:

  • I researched and wrote my master’s thesis on gender equality and (re)conciliation between work life and personal and family life. This investigation draws on a gender approach of the topic of reconciling work and personal and family life. The research aimed at contributing to a better understanding of the reality of consulting and auditing professionals (predominantly male industry) working at the Big Four – where opportunities for successful careers challenge the balance between work and personal and family lives. The study used qualitative methods, namely interviews and life histories.
  • The study concluded that, during their professional lives, women faced more obstacles and barriers: stereotypes; salary differences; more risk in the theme of parenting; and the need to be absent when having children, which often coincided with crucial moments of career development.
  • After concluding my master’s degree, I experienced the auditing and consulting departments in the Big Four environment. Ten years ago, I joined VAT Systems, and as a consequence of the acquisition, I joined Ryan.
  • In my path, I observed and felt some of the obstacles. However, I had the opportunity to empower myself and other women in this community by experiencing appropriate and equal pay, confronting gendered policies and treatment, and providing resources and support to other women in the field.
  • I am proud and glad to work at Ryan, which is named as one of the Best Workplaces for Women and one of the Best Workplaces for Parents, where we share the values and the culture of inclusion. 

Megan Young, Consultant, R&D Technical

It’s been so important in my career to see women in roles that I can look up to and aspire to become. Although the industry is still mostly male-dominated, I know I am valued in my role and provided with significant opportunities to learn and grow. Providing visibility and opportunities is something that applies to everyone, and as Megan Rapinoe has said, “Every person has a responsibility to be a participant in this society and make it a better place for everybody in whatever capacity they can.”

Another quote that inspires me was from Serena Williams: “Every woman’s success should be an inspiration to another. We’re strongest when we cheer each other on.”

Cristela Mota, Director, VAT Compliance, Consulting, and Recovery

Since a very young age, I as well as – I dare to say – most women have thought that being a woman, a wife, or a mother is not compatible with a successful business career, especially in male-dominated industries. We believe that we must choose one or another.

Ironically, life catapulted me into one of the most male-dominated industries, which has been my reality since I started my career.

This historical paradigm is not exclusive of certain countries; it is a cross-border reality in Europe. This often makes me question “why?”. The truth is that, as a woman, we must always give more, we must prove more. We must ensure when being compared to men, any asymmetries will be equalised because we have gone the extra mile. At the same time, we must never forget the way we look (“she is too young,” “she is too fat”), the way we dress (“look at that skirt”), the way we speak (“she is too soft,” “people will not respect her”), the way we smile (“she is too nice,” “she is not confident enough”) – we are always subject to deep scrutiny.

Working at Ryan makes us see that it is possible to be treated fairly, to be a woman, a wife, and a mother and still have a successful business career. We have so many inspiring examples of women role models across the Firm that I have no doubt in saying one of Ryan’s top priorities is to #InvestInWomen.

Suzanne den Breems, Principal, Practice Leader, VAT Compliance, Consulting, and Recovery

I think we’re all aware that diversity in the workplace is a necessity and not something to strive for. Not only is it the right thing to do, there are also very clear data points supporting why it’s a must. A diverse workforce brings different perspectives to matters, fuels creativity, and leads to better decision-making and problem-solving. Research also shows that more diverse companies tend to be more profitable. A diverse workplace not only creates a more stimulating and enjoyable environment for employees but also is a key driver of financial success for business. But a diverse workplace doesn’t automatically equate to an inclusive one, and it’s crucial to be aware about this. Diversity is an important first step, but true organisational success and effectiveness come from being both diverse and inclusive. As Verna Myers put it so well: “Diversity is being invited to the party, inclusion is being asked to dance.”

Inclusion requires true commitment to create a workplace where all voices are heard and all perspectives are considered, where everyone feels welcomed, respected, and valued. Not only that, but true inclusion also requires that the seats at the decision-making table should be occupied by a diverse group. So... besides women really rocking at the party, let’s make sure they also get to decide what music will be played and blow the roof off!

Madeline Coleman, Consultant, R&D Account Management

#InvestInWomen, especially in the workplace, to me means eradicating the stereo-gender job role norms. There are still many roles across all sectors that are certain characteristic-dominated, which does work. However, as a woman in tax – a male-dominated industry – it can still be quite daunting. There is still that silent pressure for us to be accepted, understood, and respected, and sometimes, we can’t say things we would like to contribute in professional conversations without the fear of being shut down, spoken over, not listened to or having ideas overlooked. By investing in women, we can let our voice be heard, go with confidence, not be afraid if we are having women-specific issues, and not struggle in silence. It may seem easier said than done, but here at Ryan, I am proud to be a woman in tax.