New Zealand’s tax industry hasn’t traditionally been the most gender diverse but over recent times there have been some profound shifts led by professional bodies, accounting firms, corporates, universities and individual rising stars to encourage more perspectives into the industry. And given that tax is the foundation for many of the social initiatives and services that we all benefit from it is important that we are all represented. New Zealand’s tax pooling originators, TMNZ, are helping to shift the dial with a number of initiatives designed to empower women in the industry. These include mentorship programs, networking events, and a company culture that actively supports women’s advancement. Through these initiatives, TMNZ aims to increase the representation of women in leadership roles within the industry, moving towards a ratio that reflects the gender makeup of New Zealand itself.
TMNZ has also built a foundation of wider social impact through the channelling of 100% of profits into the Whakatupu Aotearoa Foundation. This showcases TMNZ’s dedication to contributing to the social fabric of New Zealand. The foundation focuses on helping to build a restored Aotearoa, with a range of initiatives including many aimed at enhancing community well-being, supporting education, and fostering sustainable development.
TMNZ’s investment in New Zealand goes beyond philanthropy. At its core, TMNZ is committed to the success of local businesses. This is evident in their efforts to streamline the tax process, making it more efficient and less cumbersome for business owners. TMNZ understands that for the economy to thrive, businesses need to operate in an environment where tax compliance is not a hurdle but a smooth part of the process. By providing innovative tax payment solutions, TMNZ helps businesses manage their cash flow better, plan their taxes more effectively, and ultimately, succeed in a competitive, diverse marketplace.
Navigating the tax industry as a woman has traditionally come with a unique set of challenges including obstacles ranging from unequal representation in leadership roles to balancing career aspirations with personal responsibilities. TMNZ is acutely aware of these challenges and is committed to addressing them through targeted strategies and initiatives, thereby creating a more equitable playing field.
Kathleen Payne, a director at TMNZ, speaks to this progress, “When I started in the tax industry, the lack of female role models was noticeable. It’s why at TMNZ, we’re committed to not just hiring women, but actively supporting their advancement. We’re creating pathways for women to step into leadership roles that were once hard to reach.”
Another hurdle has been the challenge of work-life balance. Parental responsibilities have historically weighed more heavily on women and while this has improved, women are still more likely to find themselves juggling professional commitments with personal and family responsibilities. TMNZ addresses this by offering flexible working arrangements, allowing women to manage their time more effectively whether it be for family, study or personal responsibilities. Penny Ineson recently completed her accounting degree while working at TMNZ and being a Mum. “A special shout out to my employer TMNZ who have never hesitated to offer financial and emotional support and flexibility to help me achieve my goal” emphasises Ineson. This flexibility is not just about providing convenience; it’s about acknowledging and supporting the multifaceted roles women play, both in the workplace and at home. TMNZ also understands that creating opportunities for women in tax goes beyond internal policies. It involves shaping an industry culture that recognises and celebrates the contributions of women. Through initiatives like mentorship programs, networking events, and leadership training, TMNZ provides women with the tools and platforms they need to succeed. These programs are designed not just to equip women with the necessary skills but also to boost their confidence and visibility in the industry.
Isabella Prichard, reflecting on her journey at TMNZ, highlights the importance of such initiatives: “The mentorship I’ve received here has been pivotal. It’s about more than just guidance; it’s about empowering us to see our potential and take on challenges that we might not have considered before.”
At the core of TMNZ’s ethos is a value that resonates deeply with its mission: ‘Be the Change’. This isn’t just a catchphrase for TMNZ; it’s a principle that drives the company’s actions, especially in addressing gender disparity in the tax industry. TMNZ recognises that to effect real change, it must start from within, and this has led to a concerted effort to elevate women to leadership roles in an industry where they have been historically underrepresented.
Payne speaks to this commitment: “When I joined TMNZ, I saw an opportunity to influence and drive change, not just in our company but in the wider tax industry. Here, ‘Be the Change’ is more than a slogan; it’s a call to action. We’re dedicated to breaking down barriers and creating pathways for women to succeed and lead.”
Prichard’s story with TMNZ is one of significant growth and professional development. Her journey, which began in a role far removed from tax management, is a testament to TMNZ’s culture of recognizing and nurturing potential. Her move into a strategic role as a Client Relationship Manager at TMNZ was a leap that showcased not just her versatility but also the company’s commitment to empowering women through diverse career paths. “Every day at TMNZ is an opportunity to learn and grow, not just for me, but for every woman who is part of this team,”
TMNZ extends its commitment to empowering women far beyond its corporate walls, actively engaging in initiatives that create broader impacts in the tax industry. TMNZ’s support for the Women of IFA Network is a crucial part of its external outreach. This initiative provides a platform for young women in the tax field to engage with peers, share experiences, and gain insights from seasoned professionals. TMNZ actively participates, fostering an environment where young women can explore opportunities and challenges unique to their careers in tax. “Our support for Women of IFA is about creating opportunities for women to connect, learn, and grow. It’s about building a community where they can thrive professionally.” Reflects Payne.
Meanwhile, the TMNZ Queens of Tax lunches are a series of events specifically designed to bring together women leaders in tax. These gatherings have been run by TMNZ for more than 10 years and provide a forum for discussion, networking, and mentorship. Here, women from various facets of the tax industry come together to share their experiences and insights, creating a supportive network. “What we find is that conversations go from the latest tax issues to juggling kids through to menopause. Nothing’s off the table and it’s just an awesome networking opportunity for them to connect with like minded people on whatever they want to.” Highlights Payne.
TMNZ’s sponsorship of the M2women Journey to Excellence Events is another example of its commitment to advancing women in the professional sphere. Through this sponsorship, TMNZ not only acknowledges exceptional talent but also encourages continuous professional development among women. Male staff are also invited to attend these events to show their support for a more diverse industry alongside their colleagues and TMNZ’s women clients. Geraldine Chan, senior client relationship manager at TMNZ has attended a number of M2women Journey to Excellence events, alongside her colleagues: “It’s great to network with our clients and other like-minded professionals passionate about diversity, sustainability, resilience and leadership.”
As TMNZ continues to drive this positive change, its role in shaping a more diverse and inclusive tax environment in New Zealand becomes increasingly evident. The company’s efforts not only benefit the women who are directly involved in these initiatives but also set a benchmark for the industry at large. “It comes back to the diversity of thought, and if we’re not at the table, then we’re not going to get that holistic view.” Payne reflects “Because if you think about tax, taxes paid are then used for social good, to pay for welfare, it’s to pay for the hospitals, the education system and everything else. It provides money that the Government uses to support the infrastructure that we live with. So we’ve all got a part to play in that society.”