Martin Forbes, President, Cox Automotive International [photograph]
Becoming a Patron of the Automotive 30% Club is a step that Martin hopes will help improve the opportunities given to women as part of the Cox Automotive Inclusion, Diversity and Equity strategy. He comments: "Cox Automotive is committed to improving gender diversity within leadership roles, in what is still a male-dominated industry."

It is no secret that the automotive industry has, historically, lacked diversity.

However, we are now seeing the industry taking steps to action real change and we know that we all need to work much harder in this area. Embracing diversity offers so much potential and opportunities for the automotive industry. For example, diverse thinking leads to innovation and new ways of doing things – both will be vital of course in ensuring our industry succeeds in an ever-changing world.

Our goal at Cox Automotive is very clear: We want to create an environment where every team member feels comfortable being themselves at work.

This means embracing everything about a person that makes them unique – whether that’s their background, their skills, their experience, or their passions outside of work.

We also know that while a person is more than their gender, their religious belief or their sexuality – it can be those defining characteristics that bring new knowledge, new ideas and new experiences to our organisation.

I believe that actions speak louder than words, and that is why I, along with Liam Quegan (the European Board sponsor of our ‘Women with Drive’ initiative) have both committed to become Patrons of the Automotive 30% Club.

This patronage is the next step forward in the progress that Cox Automotive has already made towards creating an inclusive environment for women within our business. And although we have made some good progress, it is just the start of our journey for us and we are firmly committed to bringing about more change in this area in the future too.

We have worked hard to establish ‘Women with Drive’ – an incredibly successful network that aims to inspire, celebrate and empower women across the automotive industry. It is an inclusive movement built to support the achievements of inspirational women within our sector. We have also awarded the ‘Barbara Cox Woman of the Year’ accolade for three years running to inspirational women leaders, as well as aiming to champion equity and ambition both in and out of the workplace.

We believe that the real opportunity for inclusion and diversity is to focus on being open-minded. The issue is not necessarily lack of diverse talent within the industry, but employers only hiring like- minded people.

We want to attract and retain the very best talent within Cox Automotive as only then will we achieve our ambitious growth targets. This isn’t about us hitting quotas – it’s about creating a successful and sustainable future for our organisation and our industry.

As the proud father of two young girls, I want them to have the same opportunities as their male classmates. No matter what career path they decide to choose, I want them to feel supported and championed for their skills and experience, rather than held-back because of their gender.

If they were to look within the automotive industry, they would find some fabulous role models that epitomise success. However, we need to do more, we can do more – and I look forward to working with the 30% Club and supporting the drive to achieve more.