New Toyota goals could yield contracts worth millions of dollars for women-owned businesses

Suppliers encouraged to reach out

ERLANGER, Ky. – Now that Toyota has reached its goal of spending 5 percent of its North American purchasing dollars with minority-owned businesses, the automaker wants to boost spending with women-owned companies, too.

At the annual Toyota Opportunity Exchange in November, the automaker made a surprise announcement that it has set a 2 percent women-owned business target for its Tier 1 suppliers.

That means Toyota wants its own direct suppliers to spend money with women-owned companies.


“My Tier 1 suppliers are asking, ‘What do you want, minority-owned businesses or women-owned businesses?’ And my answer is yes and yes,” said John Munson Jr., manager of supplier diversity for Erlanger-based Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America.


The percentages might not sound big.

But Toyota’s 5 percent goal translated into its Tier 1 suppliers spending more than $700 million with minority-owned businesses in 2012 alone, Munson said. That’s a 35 percent increase in spending, he added.

The dollar amount changes from year to year, but Munson expects the new 2 percent goal to result in tens of millions of dollars in contracts for women-owned companies.

That’s great news for entrepreneurs like Nikki Means, CEO of Cincinnati-based Project Socialize LLC , a digital marketing agency.

“It’s definitely going to mean growth,” said Means, whose company is a certified woman-owned business. “You don’t necessarily want to win business just because you’re a woman business. You want to win business and get contracts because of the quality of service you provide.”

But if there are opportunities that open doors, she said, “then you take them as a business owner.”

Tierra Kavanaugh Turner has seen that happen already.

She is CEO of Louisville-based TKT & Associates Inc. , which specializes in diversity management. Her TKT-nectir Global Staffing, LLC , is a wholly owned subsidiary that provides staffing for a variety of industries.


Turner, whose businesses are certified as both minority-owned and woman-owned, has been attending Toyota’s Opportunity Exchange for more than a decade.

TKT started getting contracts with Toyota suppliers about six years ago. And now Turner’s staffing firm has been working directly for Toyota for more than two years.

“It has meant exponential growth,” she said.

Turner added that Toyota has done business with women-owned companies for many years.

“The doors have always been open,” she said. “But now I think it’s more purposeful.”

That came through loud and clear to Karen Tate, president and founder of Griffin Tate Group, Inc. , a Blue Ash company that provides training to clients worldwide to improve their project management results.


Tate attended the Opportunity Exchange for the first time in November and called the event “amazingly great and really well done.”


“Toyota does the right thing, and they aren’t just doing it for appearances,” Tate said. “Some organizations just go through the motions. But this is different.”

Munson said that’s because Toyota’s supplier diversity initiatives reflect the company’s core principles of having respect for people and making continuous improvements in how the automaker does business.

“I think that this new target, along with our existing minority business enterprise target, is just going to create more opportunity for Toyota,” he said. “We believe that diversity brings innovation, creativity and just an opportunity for us to be better.”

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