Women in Industry: Tania Gaskell Sode
TANIA GASKELL SODE
COMPANY: Toyota Industries Commercial Finance (TICF)
TITLE: Diversity+Equity+Inclusion Director
YEARS ON JOB: 13 with Toyota, 4 at TICF
The Diversity+Equity+Inclusion (DEI) Director position is a newly created role at Toyota Industries Commercial Finance (TICF). Our company provides loan and lease products for Toyota Forklifts and Hino Trucks. I am responsible for building and executing the DEI strategy aligned with TICF’s core values and mission. My goal is to ensure that our culture drives and inspires associates and leaders to build and maintain an environment of inclusion while making meaningful contributions that have an impact on society and our daily lives. In July of 2019, Mark Taggart joined our organization as President and CEO, after being with Toyota Financial Services for over 16 years. When I found out he was going to be my new leader, I expressed my desire to transition to a new role.
I have been in Human Resources for over 20 years and I felt I needed a new challenge. I learned about DEI when I worked at Toyota Financial Services. I saw the benefits and business impact – a culture of inclusion that was tied to our core values of Continuous Improvement and Respect for People – an engaged workforce, innovative business ideas, increased business growth and performance. I am grateful to have an advocate in Mark. He immediately connected me with Toyota associates who have been involved with DEI initiatives for Toyota Financial Services and Toyota Motor North America. I was able to attend a Diversity & Inclusions Champions training where I learned new concepts, ideas and how to implement a DEI initiative. Mark connected me with a mentor who pioneered the DEI initiative for their company. In 2019, I spent most of my time learning, understanding DEI, asking questions, reading articles and networking.
Keys to Success
There are a few key traits to be successful in this role:
- Passion for this work – My passion for this work comes from the experience of having advocates and allies, who made me feel included, believed in me, recognized my strengths and opportunities, and helped me when I experienced adversities.
- Be vulnerable and authentic – be comfortable with being uncomfortable, practice what you preach, give yourself grace when things are not going as planned.
- Be open – there are a lot of different perspectives, ideas, and ways to engage others on this topic, it’s not a one size fits all. Understand your audience – meet them where they are.
- Focus and take action – Focus on one to two priorities and take action. Find advocates and allies within your organization or outside. Ask for help.
Women in Industry
There are more women in material handling industry compared to 10 years ago, this is a start. The benefit of having different backgrounds, perspectives, values and experiences make companies better. Create an inclusive work culture where everyone you come across feels Welcomed, Valued, Respected and Heard. Focus on a career that you are passionate about, where you can learn, grow, fully contribute and make an impact. Identify advocates and allies who can support you in your career goals.