In the United States this year, the need for social justice, diversity and inclusion has led to a national rally for change. It goes without saying that companies rethink their approach to foster a business environment that truly serves everyone. It is, after all, up to all of us to be the change we want to see.
Inequalities in society have always been present, but social and racial tragedies amid the rise of COVID-19 have triggered genuine national consciousness. The business community understood that it had a responsibility to speak out against racism, bigotry and all forms of discrimination and an opportunity to encourage dialogue to bring understanding and build bridges.
This includes those of us at Toyota. Our fundamental principles – respect for people and continuous improvement – have guided us for a long time. We seek to reflect these values in our workplace, in the communities in which we operate and as part of our ongoing commitment to diversity and inclusion. We believe that diversity and inclusion are important to our corporate culture, employee engagement and our future success as a mobility company.
Toyota is a global company, but we have over 47,000 employees in North America, not to mention millions of customers. Of course, there is a range of opinions on issues of social and racial justice. We welcome the full range of these views and believe it is important for us to facilitate a deep and constructive conversation where all voices are heard.
Because let’s be honest: while Toyota and many organizations have made great strides in becoming more diverse and inclusive, there is still a long way to go to engage and support key communities and ensure that opportunities and equity exist for everyone. our employees.
Diversity isn’t just about ethics – it’s good business. Research shows that companies with effective corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs are more profitable.
In fact, companies with diverse management teams are …
—33% more likely to generate above average profits;
—70% more likely to enter new markets; and…
—Able to generate 19% more revenue through innovation than companies with below average leadership diversity
Businesses must also recognize the critical role that the multicultural community plays in their business success. For example, the African American community accounts for over $ 1.3 trillion in consumer spending. How can we ignore a group of people so essential to the economy? And it doesn’t stop there: Latin-Afro-Latin, Asian-American, Native American, LGBTQ +, disabled and veteran communities remain underserved despite a significant contribution to American businesses.
As head of diversity for Toyota engine North America is both my passion and my mandate to help the multicultural community thrive. (And to those of you in this community, I say: we are here for you, we are by your side, and we are committed to supporting you.) Indeed, companies looking to make significant progress in this area often seek my advice.
Here is what I tell them.
First, recognize and understand that these problems are real and genuine. Ask yourself the question, “Am I really looking at this fairly?” Many people ignore social inequalities because they seem out of their control or because they believe that unconscious prejudices in the workplace are not prevalent. Once you recognize the problem, you can start looking for ways to make changes.
At Toyota, for example, we have …
– provided diversity training on unconscious bias for managers and employees;
—Invited speakers to discuss social and racial justice;
—Organized listening sessions with employees;
—Creation of opportunities for employees to get involved; and…
– set up an action committee for social justice and an executive committee on diversity and inclusion to discuss the issues and next steps.
Second, cultivate responsibility and involvement at the leadership level. Diversity, equity and inclusion must be a top strategic priority and have tangible goals linked to a company’s mission and business strategy. At Toyota, that means retaining the company’s top market share for ethnic minorities and committing to adding more diverse dealerships each year, among other initiatives.
Third, commit to acquire, grow, develop and promote minority employees through mentoring programs, professional development and other initiatives that expand and improve opportunities for minorities.
Fourth, embraces all communities beyond the walls of the company. This could mean supporting legislation that tackles social and racial injustices, investing financially in heavily affected communities, or funding initiatives focused on educating minority youth. At Toyota, we have forged strong relationships with our business partner groups, dealers, political leaders and community partners because we know we can’t do it alone. We are confident that our combined efforts will make a difference.
It is clear that as a nation we cannot move forward if we leave others behind. As business leaders, we have a unique opportunity and responsibility to create a more equitable world where we all thrive. We must all aim to continually improve our communities by addressing the inequalities around us.
Sandra Phillips Rogers is General Counsel, Chief Legal Officer and Director of Diversity at Toyota Motor North America.