As one of the most powerful women in corporate America, Sandra Phillips Rogers has set the standard for advocacy and leadership across industries throughout her career.
The Toyota North America (No. 4 on the Fair360 2023 Top 50 Companies for Diversity list) executive was among the leaders presented with Black Enterprise’s Lifetime Diversity Crusader Award at the inaugural Chief Diversity Summit & Honors. Recipients have driven supplier diversity increases across major companies and are vocal advocates for equal opportunities for everyone.
“This has been a passion for 30 years,” said the Senior Vice President, Corporate Resources, General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer at Toyota North America. “I’ve got a lot of things to continue to do and live up to be a lifetime achiever, but I will humbly accept this recognition. It is on the shoulders and backs of so many people who come before me that I am able to have the platform to impact change. And that is truly important to me.”
Lifetime of Dedication
Rogers has dedicated much of her career to advancing social justice in the corporate and legal spaces. She has continued her mission at Toyota North America by providing strategic guidance in critical areas such as labor and employment, sustainability and environmental, social and governance (ESG).
“A crusader is somebody who’s dedicated to advancing social justice, putting themselves on the front line to advocate for and to affect substantive, measurable change,” she said. “It’s something I’ve always strived to be in my career.”
Rogers stressed that equity and inclusion shouldn’t be based on which direction the wind blows and her commitment remains strong.
“It needs to be sustainable and a business imperative,” she said. “It takes some ambition, creative thinking, a lot of prayer, courage and a steadfast commitment to the transformation across all aspects of corporate America. We know that the rewards for this are tenfold. Fostering a diverse and inclusive workforce supply chain, it benefits everybody. It benefits our customers. It benefits our team members, our partners and the communities that we serve. We know that it is at the end of the day, great business sense.”
Rogers said even the most minor changes can make a difference. She encouraged the audience to find new ways to advance equity and inclusion in their personal and professional lives.
“The next generation of business leaders is looking to us as models and we can show a path forward that involves asking the tough questions of leadership and challenging what’s possible,” said Rogers. “It is, after all, the daily work of our journey. This impact will reverberate well beyond the action itself, pulling forward progress today and not just relying on tomorrow for meaningful change.”