Every day, I work with a team of talented individuals to build our supplier diversity program with an emphasis on sourcing and development of minority business enterprises (MBEs). Additionally, I proudly serve on the board of several area diversity supplier councils dedicated to ensuring that America’s minority business enterprises have an equal opportunity to acquire the necessary business to keep our communities’ economies healthy and our innovative achievements visible.
I’d like to tell you about Opportunity Exchange, a Toyota event being held at the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati, Ohio today and tomorrow. Now in its 23rd year, Opportunity Exchange helps generate new business for MBEs. The event also provides Toyota’s large suppliers with an opportunity to further diversify their own supply base. A 1,600 plus person gathering – and one of the largest minority business events in the country – it generated more than $75 million worth of contracts in the last two years alone!
Since its inception almost 23 years ago, Opportunity Exchange has resulted in an impressive number of new contracts for minority-owned businesses with Toyota’s direct suppliers. These partnerships help add value and innovation to Toyota’s products and services, and ensure that diversity isn’t just a company value, but a promise in action. Here at Toyota we believe diversity provides a path to our sustainable, long-term success.
This annual trade fair and seminar brings together our Tier I suppliers, who participate as exhibitors and MBEs who attend as our guests. We believe this one-of-a -kind event demonstrates our commitment to lead by example and highlight Toyota’s belief that diversity extends to every facet of how we operate our businesses, from design to manufacturing and beyond. Diversity is much more than celebrating our backgrounds and heritages – it’s ensuring that that diverse sectors of our economy and business production attract and retain top suppliers from all industries and manufacturing sectors.
Rosa Santana, CEO of Integrated Human Capital (IHC), has been attending the event for eight years and notes that the program has been “tremendous for me and the growth of my business.” In her first year of participation, the program was held in San Antonio shortly after Toyota unveiled its pickup truck plant in the city. It was there that Ms. Santana became acquainted with several of Toyota’s Tier 1 suppliers, many of whom have become her clients. Through her involvement with Opportunity Exchange, Ms. Santana has been able to secure 13 new clients! Her company has also become a Tier 1 supplier for Toyota.
Ms. Santana points out that Opportunity Exchange sets in motion a self-sustaining cycle of growth – a growth in sales for Toyota, for example, drives demand for additional supplies, which in turn, allows Toyota’s suppliers to add to their own work forces, increase production and ultimately, improve their bottom line. Put simply, Ms. Santana notes, “Toyota walks the talk with regard to supplier diversity.”
As a result of Toyota’s commitment to supplier diversity, the company has been recognized by the Billion Dollar Roundtable along with seventeen other companies for spending over 1 billion dollars with minority and women-owned businesses. Toyota has been a member since 2005 and to date, has invested 1.5 billion dollars in spend with minority and women-owned businesses.
Do you know of a certified minority business enterprise that could benefit from attending an event like Opportunity Exchange?