Gender Balance Network

The Forum on Tax Administration (FTA) Gender Balance Network was launched at the FTA Plenary in Santiago in March 2019. The Chair of the Network is Commissioner Naomi Ferguson of Inland Revenue New Zealand. 

As noted in the 2015 OECD Recommendation of the Council on Gender Equality in Public Life, there is growing global awareness that gender equality is the cornerstone of inclusive growth. Working towards a gender balance helps create a more sustainable economy, and can improve national well-being.

Data presented in Tax Administration 2019 identified that, with a few exceptions, most tax administrations represented had a significant disparity between the proportion of women in leadership positions in their organisations, compared to the number of female staff in their workforce as a whole. This trend is replicated throughout the public and private sectors. In general, though, tax administrations tend to have a better representation of women in senior positions than other government organisations.

The FTA Commissioners decided to build on this positive base and to help tax administrations to maximise the benefits of a positive gender balance within their organisations by establishing the FTA Gender Balance Network (GBN). The aim of the GBN is to help improve the gender balance across the FTA members by leveraging the more balanced position that already exists in some administrations, and identifying effective policies and practices to promote gender equality.


The network aims to be a catalyst for positive institutional change to improve gender balance in leadership positions, and to identify ways of implementing that change. The initiative also seeks to provide a support network at a more individual level to facilitate mentoring and other developmental opportunities, including possible short term secondments between administrations. The network also works towards giving female tax professionals an opportunity to connect and share experiences virtually using the Knowledge Sharing Platform (KSP) – see below.


  • Advisory Group

The network is overseen by an Advisory Group consisting of the Chair, Commissioner Ferguson, and senior officials from Argentina, Canada, Norway and Singapore. The role of the Advisory Group is to manage and develop a sustainable framework for the work of the GBN as well as guide its annual work programme.


  •  Gender Balance Champions

The “Gender Balance Champions” have been nominated by their Commissioner, and are individuals of any gender that are committed to improving gender balance and willing to help mentor and develop female leaders within their administration. They form the core network and are responsible for coordinating within their organisation, as well as agreeing and implementing plans for activities across the network. They idendify appropriate learning and examples of effective practices within their jurisdictions, and working with other network members to apply this knowledge to improve gender balance within administrations.


  •  Knowledge Sharing Platform (KSP)

The network is supported by a KSP community, an online platform where reports and information can be shared by the core network, and virtual meetings can be held. The KSP also supports discussion forums, where a wider audience within tax administrations can connect and discuss issues and experiences.


Panel Pledge

Diversity and inclusion are fundamental values towards which every leader and every organization should be aspiring.One of the most visible areas of gender imbalance is the representation of speakers in public forums and panels. Panels that represent the perspective of only one gender limit the quality of the debate, and potential outcomes of conversations. Furthermore, the absence of a gender balance perpetuates imbalance, as role models for future leaders are not visible, despite qualified and capable women being available.

The Gender Balance Network has developed a Commissioner Panel Pledge which intention is to help address a lack of gender balance on panels. It asks those signing up to question the gender balance on panels to which they have been invited, and to advocate for change where necessary. However, the Pledge does not contain a commitment to turn down appearances on panels where there is no gender balance, since this may be unavoidable.

Gender Balance Network and COVID-19

The Gender Balance Network Champions have reflected on the impacts of the COVID-19 on gender balance through meetings and a survey of FTA members. The outcomes of this work were disseminated to all FTA Commissioners.


Advancing Gender Balance in the Workforce: A Collective Responsibility 

This report contains examples of initiatives, legislative and administrative, taken by a number of Gender Balance Network members or their governments to support and enhance gender balance. It also provides helpful comparative information, including for the consideration of possible future policies and activities at the domestic level.


Volume 1 - September 2019

Volume 2 - September 2020

Volume 3 - March 2021

  • FTA 2020 Amsterdam Virtual Plenary
  • Report on Advancing Gender Balance in the Workplace
  • Pilot E-Mentorship Programme
  • Gender Balance and COVID-19
  • Celebrating Women in Tax Administration
  • Topics of Interest: Unconscious bias
  • Potential GBN Activity 2021 

Commissioner Conversations on gender balance

Gender balance in tax administrations

Interview between Commissioner Naomi Ferguson and Grace Perez-Navarro – November 2020

Naomi Ferguson, Commissioner of Inland Revenue New Zealand and Chair of the FTA Gender Balance Network, speaks to Grace Perez-Navarro of the OECD Centre for Tax Policy and Administration. The conversation covers Naomi’s career as a woman in tax administration, the main considerations for successful gender balance practices, the work of the FTA Gender Balance Network and the impacts of COVID-19 on gender balance issues.

Recorded 8 November 2020