Note from the editor: This year as part of our 20th Anniversary, we are not only looking back at the past, but also setting our sights on the future. This column, Future Fridays, features guest blog posts from WBENC’s America’s Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises as they share insights on the future of doing business with them and their industry.
Opportunity Exchange: Connecting Diverse Companies and Toyota Suppliers
Event Has Generated Millions of Dollars in Contracts for Nearly Three Decades
When Toyota Supplier Diversity leaders first launched Opportunity Exchange, they had one goal in mind. Rather than sitting back and leaving it to chance that qualified diverse companies would find their way into the company’s supply chain, the automaker vowed to create a centralized summit — one where diverse suppliers could connect with real opportunities for business development.
Since 1990, Toyota’s uniquely targeted business networking, tradeshow, and learning event have accomplished that and much more. Thanks to genuine business growth from relationships made and nurtured at the conference, the dynamic forum has, through the years, generated millions of dollars in contracts between Toyota Tier I Suppliers and diverse enterprises. An essential aspect of the company’s supplier diversity processes, Opportunity Exchange is just one of many ways Toyota is ensuring its supplier base continues to reflect the diversity of its customers, partners, and team members.
Committed to Engaging More Women-Owned Businesses
The expanding contributions of women as purchasing decision-makers and business owners in today’s marketplace undoubtedly continues to gain the attention of the automotive manufacturer. So much that Toyota prioritizes maximizing its outreach and engagement with Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs) at all levels. Through events like Opportunity Exchange, as well as the company’s strategic partnership with WBENC, Toyota is working to create even greater inclusion for WBEs within its supplier base.
“We are proud of our ongoing relationship with WBENC and appreciate their leadership, insight, and support of our Supplier Diversity efforts, particularly as it relates to women-owned businesses,” states Jim Holloway, General Manager, Purchasing Supplier Relations. “By working together with WBENC, we are confident that Toyota can continue to identify more opportunities for WBEs to collaborate with our supplier partners — and each other — in communities across the nation.”
Formalizing the inclusion of women-owned businesses in its supplier base several years ago, Toyota is making significant process in achieving its WBE spend targets in both the Tier I and Tier II areas.
Matchmaking for Diverse Suppliers
From new business owners just getting started to industry leaders, hundreds of certified diverse companies attend Opportunity Exchange at no cost each year to explore real opportunities within the company’s nationwide supply base. Whether it’s the event’s educational seminars or the informal networking encounters, there are countless possibilities for participants to gain knowledge and build relationships with current Toyota strategic and supplier partners.
One of the main draws is the dynamic tradeshow, where Toyota Tier I Suppliers are the primary exhibitors. To optimize this experience for attendees, Toyota launched a mobile app, which houses information provided by diverse companies to create “Match-Up Reports,” as well as other useful event details. Including attendee capabilities and capacity insight, the reports align each respondent’s profile with actual needs of exhibitors, making it easier for participants to zero in on potential matches in automotive manufacturing, as well as professional services.
Changing It Up: New Location, Logo & Theme
Inspired by the company’s ‘always better’ approach under One Toyota, Opportunity Exchange continues to explore forward-thinking ways to create even stronger relationships between supplier partners and diverse businesses.
This year, in addition to shifting to a one-day affair to make it more accessible for busy entrepreneurs and suppliers, the annual meeting also has a new place it will call home. For the first time ever, Opportunity Exchange will be hosted in Detroit or the “Motor City,” about an hour from the company’s Saline, Michigan research and development headquarters.
Other exciting and fresh changes for this year’s conference? A revamped logo and event theme, which was also recently used for Toyota’s Power of Exchange Plano-based networking summit. A reminder that there’s value in how we all do business, the theme “Many Paths. One Goal. Building Opportunities.” embraces that there are many ways to simply work better together.
“This year’s theme highlights the endless possibilities we all have when we engage and explore the diverse perspectives of our partners, team members, and peers,” says Chuck Hendrix, Senior Manager of Supplier Diversity, Purchasing at Toyota. “Moreover, we’re reminded that proactively seeking and sharing best practices and approaches with others can spark innovation, inspire new ideas and processes, and open the door to expand capabilities.’”
This year, Toyota proudly celebrates the 28th Annual Opportunity Exchange on November 9 at Detroit’s Cobo Center. For more information about the event, visit toyotaopportunityexchange.com.
Toyota (NYSE:TM) has been a part of North America’s cultural fabric for 60 years. Committed to advancing sustainable, next-generation mobility through Toyota and Lexus brands, the automaker’s diverse value chain and growing team have built more than 33 million cars and trucks since its launch.
2017 Opportunity Exchange
What is it? A free, one-day professional development and networking conference
When? November 9, 2017
Where? Cobo Hall - Detroit, MI
For registration details and more information: toyotaopportunityexchange.com