How Toyota USA is addressing DEI to create a more equitable workplace

Toyota is the number one retail automotive franchise that dealers want to have, and consumers want to buy. But the question must be asked, what is the brand doing to advance its diversity and inclusion efforts? Today on Inside Automotive, we’re pleased to welcome Sandra Phillips Rogers, Senior Vice President of Corporate Resources, General Counsel and Chief Diversity Officer of Toyota Motor North America.

Over the last two years, Toyota has faced many challenges, but the company has responded well. The manufacturing team is working hard to build cars and trucks, the dealers deliver excellent customer service, and everyone has pitched in to help in this changing environment.

About half of the cars Toyota sells in the US are made in the US. The company wants to be known as a leader in the industry with innovative products and technologies. Toyota has been working on new products and technologies and is committed to providing excellent customer service.

Toyota is taking measures to address diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the workplace. One of their principles is “acting for others,” which helps create a more equitable workplace. Toyota also believes that a workplace that mirrors the community can benefit both the workplace and the community as a whole.

Rogers explained, “When team members feel engaged, they can give us their best, driving innovative thinking. By investing in diversity and inclusion in our community and business partners, we create success around a 360 continuum. With recent social justice unrest, we are striving to be a workplace that eliminates violence, prejudice, and racism. We provide forums to help team members share ideas, be educated on topics, or connect with community partners that can help drive development opportunities. This is the approach we want, to be good stewards of our communities.”

Toyota has long been an industry leader in DEI efforts, which are now paying off significantly. The company has been named the No. 1 automaker in the multicultural market, with 26% of the Asian American market, 21% of the Hispanic market, and 15% of the African American market.

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“We reflect externally what we drive internally,” said Rogers. “Everyone right now is really grappling with the labor challenges. We think by having a diverse and inclusive workforce that shows we stand for something and that makes us an employer of choice.”

Rogers said that Toyota’s DEI efforts have also positively impacted the company’s bottom line. “By having different views, it allows for networking and collaboration to really create great innovative products for our customers,” she said. “We have partnerships with dealers like the Toyota Lexus Minority Owners Dealers Association that has been going on for 21 years that really help us with our diversity initiatives. They help us engage with the community through scholarships, sponsorships, internships, and we have commitments to increasing minority-owned dealerships every year.”

Diversity Inc. ranks in the top 50 companies for diversity; this year, Toyota ranked number four, up from number seven last year. Toyota has been in the top 50 for the previous 15 years and is committed to continuing to improve. “We know we have not arrived fully, but we are committed and think we are on the right path, and it’s something to be proud of and something to keep going and sustain,” Rogers said.

Toyota’s diversity advisory board is missioned to help foster a more diverse and inclusive workplace and culture to strengthen relationships with business partners, dealers, suppliers, customers, and communities. “We have had this board for about 20 years, and they have given great advice and counsel over the years and have had a crucial role in growing DEI. We also help dealers with their DEI processes as well and provide training and guidance. As we continue to grow, we will keep this commitment and focus,” Rogers concluded.

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