Toyota (GB) is widely recognised for its ongoing commitment to equality and is proud to celebrate the inspirational activities and accomplishments of women within the many sectors of our corporate family. We value initiatives such as Women’s History Month, which provides a global call to action for industries to create inclusive work environments that generate a sense of belonging, value and empowerment among women of all ages.

Such equality is much more than an annual, month-long endeavour for Toyota; it is a mind set that permeates our entire business structure. And we thought the best way to illustrate this was to showcase the inspiring voices of individuals from various sectors of our family. Through candid commentaries and engaging videos we wanted to shed light on their journeys and perspectives, and reveal how they have felt supported over the years as women within the automotive industry.

Women’s History Month: inspirational Toyota family voices

Women's History Month

Grace Lomax, brand marketing graduate, Toyota (GB)

“I joined Toyota (GB) six months ago on the company’s rotational graduate scheme and was assigned to the brand marketing team. Having only just graduated from university it was quite daunting coming into the automotive industry. However, I soon realised how supportive the work environment is at Toyota.

“From the start, and with the support of my amazing female manager, I have been given ample opportunities to present to senior stakeholders. My self-confidence has significantly improved as a result of these opportunities, despite being a young female with no previous experience within this industry. This really demonstrates Toyota (GB)’s commitment to inclusion in the workplace.

“My manager has also helped me feel comfortable to express my emotions at work, which can stereotypically be seen as a weakness. I have been made to feel like a true, valued member of the team since day one. And as a result, I am now certain that every other woman coming into Toyota will feel the same level of support and inclusion that I have experienced.”

Women's History Month

Holly Cheshire, plastics shop engineer, Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK)

“I joined Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) as an engineering graduate in September 2021 and have been working in the plastics shop since then. My role has changed over these few years and I have been given the opportunity to interact with several different areas within the department. Currently I am the engineer for the area that looks after resin back doors and I am really enjoying the responsibilities and challenges it brings.

“It was scary going into a manufacturing environment, not knowing what to expect and how I’d be received due to my age and gender. But I’ve found that everybody within the engineering team, and the wider plastics shop, is always happy to support me. Having the additional support and friendship of three other female graduates has made a big difference as we are all going through the same experiences and often have discussions around it.

“My manager has helped me arrange one-to-one meetings with a female senior manager in another department. She has been very honest with me about her own experiences and offered lots of advice on how to deal with certain situations. She has helped me feel more comfortable being myself and expressing my emotions at work, which can sometimes be portrayed as a negative trait.

“My manager is also very good at leading everyone in the team equally and I have never felt like I receive less opportunities than others. I am regularly given the change to present and share my projects, which makes me feel like a valued member of the team. Through these interactions I feel constantly supported at work, allowing me to move forward with confidence in my role.”

Women’s History Month: inspirational Toyota family voices

Women's History Month

Julie Hutchinson, human resources business partner, Toyota Financial Services

“I left school at 16 and, like my brothers, was determined to support myself and my mum after we lost dad to cancer. I’ve had many jobs, but I found my career when I was offered an administration role in recruitment. I studied human resources during the evenings and eventually graduated from university in 2012 while pregnant with my son, only returning to full-time work after maternity leave. But then came the curveball.

“In 2014, when my son was 14 months old, I separated from my husband and began my challenging journey as a single mum. It felt impossible dealing with nursery fees, rent and bills, yet some well-meaning people told me that I would be better off not working. Instead I promoted myself and applied for a higher paying job. It was a significant life-change and a constant juggling act, often feeling out of my depth, guilty, exhausted, lonely and yearning for fulfilment.

“Then I joined Toyota Financial Services when my son was six years old. I was offered flexi start times so that I could do the school run, private healthcare, a car scheme, and a role where I had ample opportunity to grow at my own pace. It enabled me to establish the best balance for me, my son, and my own mental health in an organisation where there is genuine support and recognition.

“I feel that TFS understands and supports the high standards I have in my roles as both a single mum and human resources business partner, and that I fulfil them every day without compromising either. My son is thriving at school and has recently received an award for perseverance. I am immensely proud of him, how social, funny and kind he is. I will always encourage him to be the very best he can be, not compare himself to others, and always place his own mental health as a priority.”

Pascale Holden, principal specialist, new product development, Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK)

“As a widowed mother of two teenagers who have struggled massively since the loss of their father, followed by the impacts of the pandemic, I have had so much support from my colleagues and Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) as an employer. Even after 26 years here, I still feel humbled by it.

“When my husband died, what I needed most — as well as time to grieve and the support of family and friends — was the routine, mental stimulation and sense of purpose I get from my career. The compassion, understanding and flexibility I was given to enable my return to work has been invaluable. It made me feel included, whatever the challenges I faced. My situation gives me an appreciation for the time we have and an intention to make the best of everything I do, adding value wherever I can. Because of this, I want to do what I can for others. Work has enabled me to get involved in mentoring and to receive training as a mental health first aider so I can be there for others who need help.

“Tradition has placed the responsibility of childcare and household management on women in most parts of the world. The addition of a career often does not diminish this, which is a significant burden on women who are willing and able to make this contribution. In this era where women strive to take their place in industry as equals, working for an organisation which is doing ever-more to encourage equity and with colleagues who support each other to give their best is both gratifying and inspiring.”

Recruitment at Toyota

Based on these real-life Women’s History Month experiences, have you been inspired to apply to work for Toyota and begin your own inclusive story? The following companies are key members of the Toyota family within the UK. Click on each company name to be taken to the home page of its official website.

Additional articles within our Women’s History Month series:

Learn more: How Toyota is contributing to International Women’s Day 2024

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