Creating an environment that fosters diversity and inclusion is the basis of the Toyota Way, founded on Respect for People and a commitment to all of Toyota’s employees. With a vision of mobility for all, supporting team members and their shared characteristics and life experiences is key to driving real innovation. For two decades, Toyota has stood behind this philosophy by developing Business Partnering Groups (BPGs)— company-wide employee-driven networks that strengthen engagement, inclusion and connection within the workplace and beyond.
Through these collegial organizations, employees are given opportunities to get to know Toyota team members who share like-minded beliefs and value systems. Offering support and resources, BPGs improve talent acquisition and retention, boost leadership skills and nurture communication. The groups also create a forum for dialogue across the organization around issues faced by members.
With more than 100 BPG chapters across the country, boasting 13 affinities and counting, Toyota is positioned to be a frontrunner in the field when it comes to cultivating diverse employees in inclusive settings. From networks like the African American Collaborative (AAC) to Women Influencing and Impacting Toyota (WIIT)—the largest, with 18 chapters—team members can find a group that speaks to their interests, aligns with their principles and gives voice to their perspective. In fact, more than 40% of employees at Toyota’s North America headquarters belong to a BPG.
Each BPG affinity chapter is sponsored by an executive leader, including the Toyota North American Advisory Council (NAAC), a virtual team comprised of representatives from diverse business units across the affinities. NAAC leaders serve as dedicated diversity and inclusion advisors, helping guide the BPG chapters to have greater impact on the workplace, workforce, local communities and market.
From a Single Acorn
Toyota’s growth as a BPG powerhouse began in 2000, when the Toyota Organization for the Development of LatinOS (TODOS) laid the foundation for other employee resource groups to follow.
For 20 years, TODOS has served as a network for Latino team members to share ideas, work together and perform meaningful community outreach throughout the U.S. Today, the trailblazing group consists of more than 600 members supporting each other and local needs, such as high school mentoring programs to promote student skill-building in public speaking, personal finance and jobs preparation, including education in the Toyota Production System (TPS).
Recruit, Develop and Retain
It’s no secret that people are the heartbeat of every business and it’s imperative for businesses to attract and retain talent. Toyota’s employee resource groups, like Young Professionals, are a measured gateway to the talent pipeline. Mentoring, training and preparing young adults before they enter the workforce allows the automaker to seamlessly integrate new hires into the fold. And there’s an added bonus: Prospective employees receive essential professional skills that will prime them for leadership roles within the organization. These development opportunities build trust, forge relationships and are viewed as a commitment to local communities, which leads to stronger employee retention.
Many other BPGs, like the AAC and WIIT — established in 2002 and 2003 as the second and third affinity groups in the company — have also been instrumental in the company’s recruitment process. For example, partnerships between the Girl Scouts of the USA and WIIT expose young girls to careers in the automotive industry, which could lead to future employment. Earlier this year, the Plano, Texas, chapter of WIIT hosted 22 local Girl Scouts ages 14-16 for an afternoon of STEM-related activities linked to the automaker, including a STEM career panel, basic car maintenance, safe driving, vehicle safety and more. Each participant earned a Car Care Badge.
Celebrating and Leveraging All Voices
Representation matters. TFS’ Customer Service Center Central (CSCC) supported Tanager Place LGBTQ+ Youth Center in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. This year, CSCC supported Tanager Place’s Winter Luncheon fundraiser, sponsored a member to attend a summer LGBTQ youth camp, provided financial education around entrepreneurship and raised $2,000 for the organization during Pride Month. This is just one example of how Spectrum, the company’s LGBTQ+ affinity, shows up for members of this community.
While embracing allyship outside of Toyota is important, elevating voices within the organization is equally critical. For example, one of the goals of the local AAC chapter at Toyota Motor North America Research and Development (TMNA R&D) in Ann Arbor, Michigan, over the past year was to ensure that members within the network were recognized at all levels of the company and served as key contributors. As a result, the group increased and leveraged subject matter experts within this affinity throughout the year. The overall mission of the AAC is to continuously recruit, develop and retain African American talent while also bridging the gap between African American communities and the corporate workplace through Community outreach.
Accelerating Diversity and Inclusion
Toyota’s pillars of respect for people and continuous improvement are exemplified throughout BPGs. These inclusive networks enhance behaviors and performances and help pave the way for the next generation of innovators, future leaders, and problem solvers.
BPG Affinities at Toyota:
African American Collaborative (AAC)
An organization of dedicated African American Toyota team members who support Toyota's success by encouraging an environment that recognizes and respects diversity in the workplace through education and networking, creating a positive environment for all.
Multicultural Outlook Shaping an Inclusive Canada (MOSAIC)
MOSAIC aims to build a more diverse and inclusive work environment for Visible Minorities through recruiting, supporting, educating and developing team members, as well as creating not only understanding, but appreciation of the cultural mosaic that makes up Toyota Motor Manufacturing Canada (TMMC) and the local communities.
Parents of Toyota
This group is focused on making working parents and caregivers more effective and engaged in their personal and professional lives by providing resources, advocacy, support and educational opportunities.
Created to drive enhancements in the workplace for Toyota’s LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) team members and their allies, this united group is committed to achieving professional advancement, strengthening business partnerships and improving business results by applying a wide range of skills, talents and passions.
Toyota Asian American Society in Alliance (TAASiA)
This group represents the diverse Asian American cultures and heritages within Toyota and the community.
TERRA (Environmental Sustainability)
Terra allows team members with a passion for the environment to express their interest by participating in community activities that support sustainability. It provides a foundation for team members to develop their leadership by creating and launching new sustainability and awareness programs.
Toyota Christian Fellowship (TCF)
Members of Toyota Christian Fellowship (TCF) live out Toyota’s foundational philosophy of Respect for Humanity through their Christian expressions of faith.
Toyota Organization for the Development of Latinos (TODOS)
TODOS leverages the talent and energy of the TODOS Familia and makes a positive impact on its members, the company and communities where Toyota conducts business.
ToyotAbility (Differently Abled)
ToyotAbility provides Toyota team members with a business partnering group that embraces people and families with physical, nonvisible, temporary and permanent disabilities. It also raises awareness of the products and services Toyota offers those with disabilities and encourages internal groups to consider this perspective within future product design and marketing.
ToyoPets (Pet Advocates)
ToyoPets is dedicated to enhancing the marketplace and corporate standing of Toyota within the diverse, inclusive and passionate community of animal advocates.
Toyota Veterans Association (TVA)
This group provides advocacy and support for Toyota veterans and active military servicemen and women by educating Toyota team members on the many important contributions and sacrifices made by veterans.
Young Professionals (YP)
Young Professionals develop Toyota’s future leaders by uniting ambitious young professionals for recruitment, professional development and retention through opportunities to build relationships, serve the community and engage with business leaders.
Originally published October 30, 2020