What is an Inclusion Rider?

And can they change the entertainment industries?

By Benjy Schirm, J.D. | Last updated on May 27, 2022

At the end of her 2018 Oscar acceptance speech, Francis McDormand said two words: “inclusion rider.” The phrase, trending, sent the internet into a tizzy, and created a flurry of explanations into what the two-word direction from the noted actress meant.

An inclusion rider is a clause in a contract that states that the crew and cast of a movie must include a certain level of diversity. Studies have shown that there’s a large disparity in the representation of women, minorities and people of color in movies, as well as behind the cameras.

A way to combat this is problem may be within contract negotiations, as well as content creation on the front end of films. And, true to form, the emphatic call from one of Hollywood’s most revered actresses released a torrent of declarations from various actors vowing to make use of the inclusion rider in all of their contracts moving forward.

The inclusion rider came from a Gender Avenger Pledge for conventions that states, “I will not serve on a as a panelist at a public conference when there are no women on the panel.” It grew as an idea to include pundit talk shows, and has since wetted the interest of A-listers in Hollywood.

Other industries have also instituted policies for inclusion of minorities and underrepresented groups in leadership positions. Many companies find inclusionary policies in their human resources platforms on affirmative action and diversity hiring. The Democratic Party has inclusionary policies involved in their delegate elections and other convention rules. The NFL has a policy called the Rooney Rule, which mandates that teams interview minority candidates for head coaching and senior level positions. This simple structural pattern can radically change the balance toward a more representative and inclusive workforce.

These policies show that those like the inclusion rider are not merely for big movie stars and film directors. This focus on inclusion can be integrated across all industries. In fact, any organization that does not evaluate their policies for inclusion is taking a big risk. A non-inclusive workplace is rife for a discrimination lawsuit. If you run a small business, organization or support group, it may be in your best interest to find a reputable and experienced attorney familiar with the film business. They can help you draft up an inclusionary policy to have on hand, or to be included in your contracts moving forward. 

For more information, see our overview of entertainment and sports law.

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