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Leading African-American Decision-Maker at Toyota Being Honored

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By William Reed, NNPA Columnist –

(NNPA) When the 16th Annual Urban Wheel Awards convene in Detroit during the January 2012 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), USA, Inc’s group Vice President and General Manager, Fletcher V. Davidson will receive the event’s Executive of the Year Award.

“These Annual Urban Wheel Awards are our way of showing African Americans’ appreciation for those auto companies that recognize and respect their buying power," said program founder Randi Payton.

The Urban Wheels Awards started in 1996 as a feature of the African Americans on Wheels Magazine. Occurring during the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), the 2012 Urban Wheels Awards shows how the program has evolved into “the world-class show promoting diversity and inclusion in the automotive industry.”

Payton said the 2012 winners of the Urban Wheel Company of the Year Awards “are being recognized for demonstrating a commitment to diversity and inclusiveness in the areas of Workforce Development, Community Leadership, Minority Supplier Development, and Diversity Inclusion Leadership.”

The awardees are: Chrysler Group LLC - Workforce Development; General Motors Company - Community Leadership; Ford Motor Company - Minority Supplier Development
and Toyota Motor Corporation - Diversity Inclusion Leadership.

Payton said “We are delighted to recognize Toyota Motors for its leadership in diversity and inclusion…and impressive record leading the industry with diversity initiatives and…internal leadership and commitment.”

In fact, the people at Toyota have set a new trend in the industry and made strategic and measurable moves to reach Black buyers. A positive culture for people of color is emerging at Toyota. People at the top in Toyota are valuing Blacks as consumers, vendors and team members. Toyota has an advertising agreement with Black publishers. In 2011, Toyota was named among the Best Companies for Diversity by Black Enterprise for its achievements in supplier diversity. Founded in 1937 by Kiichiro Toyoda, the Toyota Motor Corporation of today appears to have, a different culture and perspective. Toyota Motor Corporation group companies are Toyota (including the Scion brand), Lexus, Daihatsu and Hino Motors, along with several "non-automotive" companies. Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. markets products and services through a network of nearly 1,500 dealers which sold more than 1.76 million vehicles in 2010. Toyota employs nearly 30,000 people in the U.S.

In his executive role at Toyota, Davidson leads a team of 2400 associates who support $3.5 billion in sales. Payton said that Davidson is being honored for “proven success in management, specifically for his strategic leadership during the 2010 recalls and 2011 earthquake and tsunami” “I am honored to receive the Executive of the Year award. This award comes as supply is improving… and we are preparing to introduce 20 new products over the next few years” said Davidson.

Toyota’s record on diversity and inclusion is a result of the leadership and commitment of its Black executives. Ed Lewis, head of Strategic Communications & Media Relations, said “At Toyota, we believe an auto company can be a vehicle for change and a key element in strengthening community needs nationwide.”

Since 1991, Toyota contributed nearly $540 million to U.S. philanthropic programs that included the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation and “Push for Excellence”. Toyota’s supplier-diversity program has more than 7 percent of Tier I (direct contractor) spending going to minority-owned businesses.

Toyota has a number of African Americans in high-level decision-making positions. Jim Colon is Vice President of Product Communications. Christopher P. Reynolds is a group vice president and general counsel for the Legal Services Group. Jerome Miller is Vice President for Diversity and inclusion, and Wil James is president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky, Inc.

The Wheels Awards’ agenda includes honoring Washington Post automotive columnist Warren Brown with a Lifetime Achievement Award as recognition for his being one of the nation’s most influential auto writers since he started coverage of the industry in 1982. A special tribute will be made toward auto companies that made major contributions to the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial by MLK Memorial CEO Harry Johnson.

William Reed is Publisher of Who’s Who in Black Corporate America and available for speaking/seminar projects via BaileyGroup.org.

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