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What’s an Inclusion Rider?

Golden Globes
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“I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider,” said Frances McDormand at the close of her Best Actress Oscars speech.

But what is an inclusion rider — and why should non-Hollywood types care?

“Actors sign contracts when they are cast in films, and they have the ability to negotiate for riders, or additional provisions,” explains Maura Judkis at The Washington Post. “An inclusion rider is a stipulation that the minor roles of a film reflect the demography of where the film takes place, including a proportionate number of women, minorities, LGBTQ individuals and people with disabilities. Big name actors who have leverage in negotiations could put this stipulation into their contracts and drastically change representation in film.”

A New Concept to Fix an Old Problem

Judkis credits Stacy Smith, founder and director of the University of Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, with developing the concept.

In a 2016 TED Talk, Smith says that among 800 movies released between 2007 and 2015, less than a third of speaking roles went to female characters. Nearly half of films released in 2015 lacked a single African-American character with lines; 70 had no Asian or Asian-American women in speaking roles; and 93 had no lesbian, bisexual or transgender speaking roles.

The solution is obvious: hire more diverse directors and other behind-the-scenes workers. But to do that, you need leverage — the kind A-listers can provide.

“A-listers, as we all know, can make demands in their contracts, particularly the ones that work on the biggest Hollywood films,” Smith says. “What if those A-listers simply added an equity clause or an inclusion rider into their contract?”

Why It Matters (and What You Can Do to Make Your Company More Diverse)

“Inclusion rider” was McDormand’s mic drop. What came before was a startling visual. She asked every female nominee in every category to stand up. Very few people rose to their feet.

Inclusion matters, because without diverse decision-makers, it’s impossible to arrive at a final product that speaks to a diverse audience. That’s true whether you’re talking about movies or websites or widgets.

Now, very few people have the clout of a Meryl Streep in the context of their particular industry. But as your career progresses, you may find yourself among the decision-makers. When you do, use your power for good. Consider pushing for some of these measures:

1. Institute the Rooney Rule

Since 2003, the NFL has required teams to interview minority candidates for leadership positions (e.g., coaching and GM jobs) before making a hire. Failure to do so can lead to some pretty hefty fines.

The goal for organizations who adopt a similar rule? Changing the candidate pool, thus ensuring that hiring managers don’t inadvertently reinforce a diversity problem by speaking only to candidates who fit a particular demographic group.

2. Stop Relying on Referrals

PayScale’s recent report, The Impact of Job Referrals, shows that hiring through referrals can also reinforce a lack of diversity. From the report:

Our research shows that, holding all else constant, women of any race and men of color are much less likely to receive referrals than their white male counterparts: white women are 12 percent less likely; men of color are 26 percent less likely and women of color are 35 percent less likely to receive a referral.

Diversity-focused career fairs and recruiting from schools with diverse student bodies can help, as can developing a social media presence that gives diverse candidates another means to connect with the company.

3. Ask for a Salary Equity Review

Anne Krook, author of “Now What Do I Say?”: Practical Workplace Advice for Younger Women, says that senior executives should consider asking for a salary equity review, to make sure that pay is equitable across gender, race and other groups.

With a little tact, she says in PayScale’s Salary Negotiation Guide, a person with power can bring up these issues diplomatically:

“It’s also worthwhile to point out that especially for women and racial minorities $0.77 and less on the dollar is a persistent, long-standing, nationwide problem, so in bringing it up you are not pointing out anything unique to your organization but a legitimate nationwide concern. This is the huge advantage of the current conversation about unconscious bias – it’s not that anyone intentionally has racist/misogynist/anti-Muslim/homophobic/other awful attitudes, though of course they may, but that even well-intentioned people do. When it’s a matter of human cognition, it’s possible to remove the element of blame.”

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Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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