Diversity Scorecard 2014: Women Closing The Gender Gap

, Daily Business Review

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Niza M. Motola of Littler Mendelson and Mercedes M. Sellek of Maspons Sellek Jacobs
Niza M. Motola of Littler Mendelson and Mercedes M. Sellek of Maspons Sellek Jacobs

"We got to know each other socially where we talk about our children, we talk about travel, we talk about do you have someone who helps your son because mine does the homework and doesn't turn it in," Smith said. "So now I call Patty when I have work and she disseminates it within the firm."

Menendez-Cambo said she is doing the female equivalent of what men have been doing for years to build relationships. While men invite their clients or general counsel to play golf or to a basketball game, Menendez-Cambo will invite Smith to a spa day.

"We'll text each other, 'Saturday, spa?' " Menendez-Cambo said. "We go to the spa, and she comes with a list, and I have my own list, and suddenly you've found an hour for yourself, and you've gone through your work assignments. I think part of our challenge is really developing new ways of being able to intersect the networking and the responsibilities that women general counsel have today as well as women partners."

Menendez-Cambo also hit on the winning strategy of inviting Smith and her children to her house when they are in town.

"I love my children," Smith said. "You find an avenue with my children, I will remember you. It's not that complicated. Don't ask me to join a club because that's segregation in my mind, either through money, race, religion, some kind. But invite me over, and I wear jeans just like you do. Invite my children over. And that to me is how you get my business."

Camacho of Microsoft attends conferences and seminars geared to women in an effort to network with female lawyers.

"Men are very good at building networks; women are very good at finding friends," she said. "I do believe in order to get more references we need to know more people, we need to create a pipeline, and for me that's the main reason I attend this type of seminar. Whenever I go to these events I am looking for friends of friends, I am looking for women talent, I am looking for women to bring to Microsoft."

Corporate Priority

Also helping move the needle for women is the fact that some Fortune 500 corporations—including Microsoft Latin America Corp., Hewlett Packard Co. and Wal-Mart Stores Inc.—require a percentage of its outside counsel to include women and minorities, Cornejo noted.

"If a company doesn't have a diversity goal in terms of law firm hires, then nothing happens," she said. "I think the majority of law firms are run by men, and some don't care about diversity. They do what's politically correct, and a lot of times ... it's just window dressing."

For years, Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle has hosted an annual Latin Lady Lawyers dinner at her house for top female Hispanic lawyers to celebrate their accomplishments, discuss charitable projects and network.

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