Why inclusivity matters – Male Advocate, Paul Van der Burgh, President & MD at Toyota GB Plc

Building an inclusive environment where all individuals are valued and encouraged to be their best is key to our commercial success.

The services we provide are completely determined by our people, so if we’re to transform ourselves, and stay relevant to future customer needs, then we need highly engaged and motivated people that connect with our customers.

We’re working in a period of seismic change for the Automotive industry.  With new forms of powertrain technology, autonomy, artificial intelligence, connectivity and the move to providing new mobility solutions, the future may not be recognisable at all.

So, to ensure our success, we need urgent action to attract, retain and develop the best possible talent base.  It goes without saying that the profile of our business should reflect the profile of our customers, and the value that diversity brings. By walking in our customer’s shoes, we can learn what is important and valuable to them.  We must then empower our people to create our best ideas to offer the right products and services with the highest level of customer experience.

In the past, we haven’t fully tapped into a large proportion of the available talent pool.  In future, it’s simply not an option.  A diverse and inclusive team performs better and makes faster progress in a changing world, and a better mix of employees undoubtedly supports a better working environment and company culture too.

Creating an inclusive environment that offers the conditions to allow people to be their best is key – engaged and happy team members deliver exceptional results.  That’s why we have been focused on improving our employee engagement over the last 6 years.

Through the Sunday Times Best Companies assessment, which also provides external recognition and PR, we’ve been improving our approach at TGB – working out the areas where we need to improve and offering encouragement and empowerment to staff so they can introduce their own initiatives to drive the business forward.

Attracting and nurturing the best talent to join us at TGB has resulted in many actions:

  • Diversity and Inclusion Strategy endorsed by the Board
  • Challenging ourselves about our working patterns and the increased desire to work anywhere for flexibility and to suit working styles. This resulted in Flexible working guidelines for all
  • Clearly stating on job adverts that we welcome a conversation re flexibility
  • Re-writing of job adverts to check the language does not detract and positions the role more clearly around what it offers in terms of development, what an individual will own and reducing the essential criteria so more people are encouraged to apply
  • Women on the Verge of Brilliance programme helping women be the best version of themselves through conversations, tools and techniques and the support network they build through the programme.
  • Encouraging a coaching culture and providing access to internal accredited coaches to work on maximising potential, addressing a development need or re integrating into the business on return from maternity leave.
  • Increasing transparency of our succession planning process
  • Monitoring the speed of development within TGB – for all staff introducing talent forums to increase visibility across the business of all our talent and the development we could offer

We all have an important role to play in making TGB more inclusive.  I say that, because together we’re creating the Company culture that welcomes, nurtures and makes TGB a brilliant place to work.  We’re making TGB a talent magnet, that draws in the best people, irrespective of gender, race, religious beliefs, or indeed the way they think, and helps them enjoy a very fulfilling career.

Equally, I recognize that consistent leadership is also key, and that’s why I deliver the same message on the importance of people in all my interactions – at TGB, with our European HQ, with our network partners, or at external meetings.  I regularly meet with staff (“Lunch with Paul”) to directly understand employee views on how to make TGB an even better place to work, and these sessions generate some great creative ideas and insights.  And we try to introduce as many of these ideas as we can.

My most significant contribution to improving inclusion has been my personal involvement in championing the talents of the women in our UK business.  Through the Automotive 30% Club, and its mentoring programme, I have focused on providing the right conditions for our female managers to grow and excel in their roles, and to gain wider recognition for their talents and achievements.  The conditions are similar for all members of staff – we’ve simply removed some of the extra obstacles that women have faced.

I’m convinced that greater inclusion will enhance our innovation, increase our success, and encourage the brightest talent to work in TGB.  And collectively we will shine brightly in future, and of course, have loads of fun along the way.

Share this..