"To be the best business we can be, we need diversity in all forms": Claire Young, Girl&Bear

Girl&Bear champions a culture of connection, collaboration, and authenticity

von India Fizer , AdForum

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Claire Young
Managing Director Girl&Bear

Feminism is about equality at its core and should be celebrated as such. Claire Young, Managing Director of VCCP's integrated production partner Girl&Bear, proves a balanced work environment is a successful one.


Can you tell us a bit about your role and your journey to arriving there?

I began my career in the world of fashion magazines and PR, I then kicked off my career in production by joining a large format photography company as a production assistant.

While I was there I quickly fell in love with being a producer -  the orchestrator of bringing a creative vision to life. 

Wanting to get more involved in more varied types of production I then moved into comms agency life, and have led integrated production teams and departments at world class communication agencies exposure, Mother, and JWT.

I joined VCCP as Head of Creative Services and Integrated Creative Production in 2016.

During my early days at VCCP I identified the benefits that forming an integrated production offering could bring to the VCCP Group, which in time led to us creating Girl&Bear in 2021 where I am Managing Director.


What barriers do women still face in our industry and how can we challenge them?

Firstly, whilst it is positive to see the changes that the industry has made over recent years to ensure that we are creative, accessible and inclusive workplaces, I believe that there is still so much to do to ensure the industry is a better place for women.

In essence, I believe that feminism is still not yet celebrated enough in our industry, and beyond!

I often see successful women attributing typically masculine traits in order to succeed, which is understandable because historically the idea of success has been associated with masculine behaviour and characteristics.

My view is that the industry will be better with more balance and equality. Despite the progress that has been made for woman both inside and outside our industry, we should be championing feminism more -  a noun which is still too often viewed as a dirty word - and we need to do this to benefit not only women but importantly to benefit men too.

Women need more permission to be their authentic female selves, and it’s time for typically feminine attributes - empathy, collaboration, intuition etc. -  to be lifted higher up and adopted by both women and men. 

To be the best business we can be, we need diversity in all forms, and we need both masculine and feminine strengths and perspectives in our workplace to be more evenly balanced.

Women not suppressing their feminine qualities and owning them, and men celebrating them, will lead us to this. It will also lead us to a situation where men can talk more openly about their feelings and not be measured by masculine presumptions, which will basically mean the industry and the world is full of better humans all round!


How do you use your position to build equitable teams that are diverse and balanced? 

When we launched Girl&Bear it was vital to me that we created a business that was as diverse and inclusive as possible - that went beyond gender, and touched everything  from diversity of thought, to social economic diversity and sexual orientation and beyond.

I am deeply passionate about my responsibility to ensure that everyone in Girl&Bear’s behaviors are reflective of a multicultural environment.

At Girl&Bear we have collectively created and champion a culture of connection, collaboration, and we celebrate authenticity in each and every individual - their different life experiences, their different opinions, their different skill sets.

We have an ongoing approach to education and evolving our behaviours to ensure we create a welcoming environment for every individual within the team. To support all of our people in this passion and commitment, we created what we call our ‘Be nice policy’ which gives tools, supports and encourages everyone in Girl&Bear to be a conscious maker; to empower them to create an environment that works for them and for everyone around them.


Who are your female advertising icons/role models and why?

There are so many, yet not quite enough!

For me, it is all the amazing and inspiring women leaders across the VCCP group of agencies I am lucky enough to work with - they are all absolute icons!