Frederiek Toney, 66
Vice president, global Ford customer service division, Ford Motor Co.
Over the past two decades, Frederiek Toney has molded Ford's parts and service centers into one of the automaker's most diverse business units.
Half of Toney's 10 direct reports are women. Of the automaker's 22 North American parts departments, 10 are managed by people of color.
About 13 diverse candidates have been promoted within the past 12 months.
It's all by design.
"If you don't create an environment of inclusiveness, you'll never be as good as you could be," Toney told Automotive News. "By not being intentional and making sure we reflect the society in which we live, we simply are hurting our ability to reach the company's potential. Why would you have an asset and then underutilize it?"
Toney says building a diverse workplace "isn't rocket science" but does involve work from company leaders.
"We have to have a plan of development for every employee," he said. "You have to be intentional. If you build a pipeline properly, you can prepare yourself to be better in the future."
Part of building that pipeline includes reaching out to communities of color and helping minority students enter the work force. Toney aids in spearheading those community efforts through the Ford African Ancestry Network and acts as chairman of the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering, which hands out about 1,000 scholarships annually.
Aside from formal hiring and promotion efforts, Toney has an open-door policy for all employees to reach out and talk with him for career advice. He has mentored about 35 workers since joining Ford in 2000.
Toney says Ford and the auto industry as a whole have improved in diversity in recent years and that employee resource groups help hold leaders accountable, but there's more work to do.
He thinks the steps he's taken at Ford could serve as an example.
"I didn't make a big deal of it, I just gave people opportunities when they deserved them," Toney said. "What I found out is that I could make a difference."
— Michael Martinez