Toyota’s appointment of not one but two non-Japanese to executive ranks (and one of them a woman!) plus a Japanese veteran who left school at 16 is evidence of President Akio Toyoda’s commitment to diversity in its widest sense. The reason he gives for this commitment is not the usual vague nod to the need for diversity for good governance or globalization but because he wants to build a company which will last for ever. “I think constantly about what kind of condition this company should be in when it passes on not just to the next President but two Presidents after that” he said in a recent comment. “Unlike human beings, if a company continues to grow, it can have eternal life”. Toyota’s concern, as the archetypal traditional Japanese ‘company as family’, for legacy and longevity shines through.
Julie Hamp will be Toyota’s first female senior executive, heading up global communications, and is moving to Toyota City to carry out her role, which should give her a better chance of success if she can survive the culture shock, than those foreign senior executives who tried to straddle bases in their home country and Japan. It sounds like she gets what Japanese companies are about, as she was first impressed, when she was at GM, by the amount of community work Toyota dealers did. She also says she’s looking to do more “visual story telling” which definitely should suit visualisation oriented, family myth style Toyota well. Here’s hoping she’s successfully adopted into the heart of the family.
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