Reflecting over her 12-year career at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas (TMMTX), Denise Rodriguez paused, almost in disbelief at her own story, “I mean, Toyota was the first company where I had ever heard the words ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ used at the workplace.”
As a member of the LGBT community and communications chair for the business partnering group (BPG) Spectrum at TMMTX, Denise is a true reflection of Diversity and Inclusion at Toyota.
“I’ve been a part of Spectrum for two years. It makes me feel welcomed as an individual at Toyota — and as a member, I’ve been able to help others be comfortable in who they are without fear of prejudices.”
From the Human Rights Campaign Gala in San Antonio to TMMTX activities helping benefit the local Pride Center, Denise is active in her role as a BPG member. In October 2017, she helped represent TMMTX’s first time at the Toyota-sponsored Out & Equal Workplace Summit held in Philadelphia — Out & Equal Workplace Advocates’ annual global conference. There, over 4,000 workplace experts and employees gather to discuss achieving LGBT workplace equality. Denise, along with several other Toyota Spectrum group representatives across North America, attended the conference.
“It allowed us to meet other corporations and discuss diversity and inclusion topics — but also gave Spectrum members from different locations a chance to meet and talk about improving our impact.”
Denise is proud of Toyota and the growth of Diversity and Inclusion at TMMTX. She and her wife, Tracy, welcomed their first daughter in 2017, a statement Denise shares with a reminder. “I’m married. I used to not have that right.” Denise says the freedom to just be herself at work is part of the growth and that having a safe place for all makes Toyota a great place to work.
“The world is evolving, and our workplace is evolving, too. Spectrum has provided a space for me to be myself and for others to respect that. Everyone is a human being and deserves the right to be respected and treated equal. We are definitely making progress, but we need to keep the evolution going.”