Taking on the macho culture


Laura Collada

Taking on the macho culture

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Laura Collada, managing partner of Dumont in Mexico, reflects on her working life, the challenges that remain for diversity and inclusion and her hopes for the future.

Describe a typical day in your role

I wake up and exercise on the treadmill for half an hour or so. I then have breakfast and get ready for work. I receive many emails daily, so I sort them out according to priority and the first couple of hours of my day are completely dedicated to this task.

I have meetings or calls with the heads of the firm’s different departments to discuss cases or new clients. I get together with our administrative manager almost every day. After lunch, I check my inbox once again and work on cases, drafts, etc. After I finish work, I watch television or read.

How can IP attract more women and people from diverse backgrounds?

We need to let them know there are places for them in law and IP by including more welcoming information in job descriptions, hiring law students from different backgrounds, and communicating our commitment to diversity and inclusion (D&I) on channels such as social media.

There are so many ways to convey positive messages around D&I. In Mexico, there are very few female or minority partners, and women and people from diverse backgrounds continue to face issues such as the salary pay gap and fewer opportunities to advance careers.

”The only way to prove the naysayers wrong is to work harder and empower other women.” - Laura Collada, Dumont

Is the legal profession doing enough to promote D&I?

There are a lot of initiatives, but I do not think it is enough. The legal profession is in many ways still a man’s world and we should change that. For example, many webinars and events for the legal profession still feature only male speakers.

Firms use marketing to showcase their commitment to D&I because today because that is a must for retaining clients. But sadly, it doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny. There is much more to be done, including training, hiring more women and people from minority backgrounds, implementing corporate policies to effect change, and conveying a message that D&I is important.

Drawing on my own experience, I have been discriminated against, called names, and not given the same opportunities as my male peers. The only way to prove the naysayers wrong is to work harder and empower other women.

What are the main D&I issues particular to Mexico?

We are still taking baby steps. In Mexico, there is a macho culture and a traditional view of women’s role in society prevails, so breaking that paradigm is a struggle. Even though Mexico has passed legislation to boost D&I, this hasn’t permeated through society itself, or the legal field.

Women have to deal with the traditional view that once they have children, they are more likely to stay at home, so the opportunities to develop careers are scarce. In the legal sector—even though it has changed a lot—you can still find many traditional and large law firms that do not have a single woman as an equity partner.

We should challenge this culture and promote an understanding that women can work in all areas of law. Firms need to offer the same opportunities to everybody and offer training on core D&I issues to create awareness.

What impact do you think COVID-19 has had on D&I?

COVID-19 has made everything slow down, including business, initiatives, campaigns, training, etc. The awareness of the need to promote D&I probably has not changed, but the difficulty of doing everything virtually can impact these initiatives.

Who or what inspires you?

A lot of things inspire me. I like creative people with good ideas who inspire me to be better. When I see one great idea or thought delivered by someone else, I try to do something similar. For example, in Mexico it is still uncommon for a company to guarantee accessibility in different types of businesses or offices, even though we have legislation related to that.

When I see someone making an effort to implement progressive measures in their workplace, I try to emulate their approach and encourage others to do the same.

Do you think the Black Lives Matter movement will accelerate change?

I think it already has. Now, the legal sector must sustain the momentum of the movement and deliver results: that it is as important as conveying the message. The movement raised the awareness of the need to promote greater equality and access to opportunities, and I am sure it has accelerated change.

Ultimately, this can be achieved in the form of legislation, training and knowledge-sharing, because it is only through knowledge and understanding that things can change.

What are your hopes for D&I in the future?

I hope that one day we can achieve a diverse and inclusive society worldwide. I don’t think we will see that in our life time, but if we all work to change our environment and surroundings in our little corner of the world, that is a success we can be proud of.

Laura Collada is a managing partner at Dumont. She can be contacted at: lcollada@dumont.com.mx

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Dumont, D&I, IP law, webinars, COVID-19, minorities, legislation, initiatives, BLM, gender equality