Engineering Diversity

Much has changed at Toyota in Nikki Brown’s 12 years with the company, not least of which is the increased number of female and African American engineers contributing to Toyota’s success.

Nikki, Assistant Manager of Quality Engineering at Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky (TMMK), hasn’t just watched the ranks of diverse engineers swell around her — she has helped make it happen. During her first five years at Toyota, the Louisiana native worked as a recruiter at conferences hosted by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers — where she discovered her career opportunity with Toyota.

“I’ve seen the face of my department change,” Nikki says of Quality Engineering which helped launch a new Camry model in 2017 and will do the same for the new Avalon and Lexus ES 350 models arriving on show floors in 2018. Among her Quality Engineering cohorts working on the Avalon launch are two male and one female Mexican Americans, a Paraguayan and another African American woman. Nikki’s supervisor is also a woman. “I never imagined I would get to work for a woman engineer on a product launch,” Nikki says.

As chair of the African American Collaborative (AAC) at TMMK, Nikki is focused not just on attracting diverse talent to Toyota but on developing and advancing it. The AAC assists diverse team members by helping them identify their career goals and partnering with them to develop a path to achievement. Some of the more popular AAC activities that Nikki has helped organize at TMMK include outside career development speakers, lunch-and-learns and the wildly popular Quiz Bowl during Black History Month.

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