Diversity & Inclusion: It's essential in the corporate tax space.

We've been conducting roundtables and conference sessions on diversity and inclusion for several years now--and for good reason. Simply put, the subject should be top of mind and a key agenda item for our members and their organizations. To check out what's happening as we approach 2020, we convened a roundtable of three practitioners: Tasheaya Warren Ellison, associate director, global tax operations, for Procter & Gamble; Renee Gonzalez, assistant general tax counsel for Exxon Mobil Corporation; and Kristen Bauer Proschold, director and managing tax counsel for Intuitive Surgical. Michael Levin-Epstein, Tax Executive's senior editor, moderated the discussion.

Michael Levin-Epstein: Why are diversity and inclusion important elements of a successful tax department?

Tasheaya Warren Ellison: Diversity and inclusion are important elements of a successful tax department, because you need diversity of ideas in order to get to the best resolution for any tax matter. Having people with different perspectives and different experiences adds to the richness of the conversation, and with a variety of inputs you can better strategize on how to get to a best answer.

Renee Gonzalez: I believe that we work in an incredibly technical area, and there's not one answer to every puzzle that we're asked to solve. Having a diverse and inclusive tax department allows us to bring many different ideas to the table and identify the solution that leads to the best result for the company.

Kristen Bauer Proschold: I also echo Tasheaya and Renee on this. Diversity is important, of course, but "inclusion" is also creating that environment such that those great ideas and those different backgrounds and points of view are heard and visible in a collaborative space. Having both of those elements when evaluating any sort of tax question, or business question, goes to what Tasheaya just said about the richness of the conversation and what Renee just said about getting to the best result for the company.

Increasing Diversity & Inclusion

Levin-Epstein: What are your companies doing to increase diversity and pave the way for inclusion?

Ellison: It's my perspective that P&G has been very out in front of diversity, not just publicly with advertising campaigns and community programs but also internally by making sure that there are networks and other inclusion opportunities such as programming and awareness sessions related to gender, racial, LGBT+, and disability diversity, so that all staff members feel...

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