Inclusion rider? What’s an inclusion rider?
I wasn’t really rooting for Frances McDormand to win an Oscar last night. But I’m glad she did. She set an example for all of us about how to leverage our influence, think outside the box, and elevate others for the sake of progress. Progress, I’m sure you’ll agree, is always a good thing.
If you Googled inclusion rider last night, you were not alone. And, in case you missed it, check out this Tweet from Whitney Cummings, author of I’m Fine…And Other Lies:
an inclusion rider is something actors put into their contracts to ensure gender and racial equality in hiring on movie sets. We should support this for a billion reasons, but if you can’t find a reason to, here’s one: it will make movies better.
— Whitney Cummings (@WhitneyCummings) March 5, 2018
So, how do you add an inclusion rider to your contract?
Inclusion Riders: First Things First
I am not Frances McDormand. But that doesn’t mean I lack influence. Neither do you. You are a person of influence. Whether your influence is felt primarily around the dinner table with your family, or in an arena in front of thousands does not matter. Write this down and repeat if often: I have influence.
If inclusion matters to you, let people know it. At the dinner table, share your values with your family. Let them know: this is the kind of family we are. If you’re speaking in an arena to thousands, be sure your values are visible to everyone — in your mission statement, your printed materials, the people you hire, your target audience, your speaker lineup, etc. Stop waiting for others to make the first move. Leverage the influence you have, today.
Why Add an Inclusion Rider?
The inclusion rider was created in 2016, by attorney Kalpana Kotagal, in collaboration with Stacy Smith from the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. When asked in an interview with Mashable, “What exactly is the inclusion rider?” here’s how Kotagal responded:
The idea here is that we – working with Stacy Smith at the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative, I developed contract language that an A-lister, a movie star, could take into negotiations with a studio to star in a particular product or a particular production and the idea is that it would help to guide a set of best practices around hiring and casting on screen and off-screen that would ensure a more diverse production from top to bottom. So that’s the idea; it allows those who already have the kind of bargaining power and market power in the industry to say, ‘Look, we want to be part of the solution’ and one of the ways that we’re going to drive the kind of change we want to see in the industry is to insist that the projects that we work on are truly reflective of the world we live in.
Based on the emails and comments and DMs I receive from you, you agree with Kotogal — you “want to be part of the solution.” An inclusion rider can help you be just that.
You might not be an A-lister or a movie star (yet), but you can make sure the people you interact with know just how important diversity and inclusion are to you. That is exactly what I decided to do at the beginning of the year.
My Inclusion Rider
Long before Frances McDormand included all the women nominees and dropped those two magic words on the world, I had been working through my own thoughts about diversity and inclusion in my career. If you know me, you know I’ve been calling for more diversity, especially in evangelical spaces, for a very long time. But, for whatever reason, while the evangelical world is quick to do some things, they seem to be pretty slow at diversity and inclusion.
So, I decided to stop asking.
Instead, I realized exactly what I’ve been telling you: I have influence. And so, beginning this year, I am no longer saying yes to events that lack diversity. I don’t want to be the diversity anymore.
Politely declining to participate in spaces that lack diversity has cost me opportunities (here is a good place to interject a hearty, “Thank God for my part-time gig!”). But, it has also resulted in a few very good conversations and some actual changes in representation for some. Additionally, I’ve been fortunate to land engagements that have made me giddy because I know I won’t be the only woman of color in the room and I won’t have to search hard to find the others. All of this is worth the lost opportunities.
After hearing Frances McDormand’s speech last night, I added the following to my speaker agreement:
Diversity is very important to us. Tell us about your commitment to diversity. If you have a diversity statement in your mission, please share it here. How have you worked to make diversity a value for your organization, and how have you worked to communicate this? How diverse is your staff, speaker lineup, target audience?
While more a conversation starter than a rider, this section of my agreement helps to make event planners aware of the importance of diversity to me. It also gives the event planner an out. They can choose not to ask me to speak before actually submitting the form to me. It’s a baby step. For all of us.
Adding Your Inclusion Rider
Feel free to copy and paste the inclusion section of my speaker agreement into your own contracts and agreements. Or, get in touch with your agent, publicist, editor, or attorney and have them get the process rolling.
However you approach it, keep these things in mind:
- It may cost you today, but it will make a difference for tomorrow.
- You might need to ramp up your side hustle, but your integrity will remain in tact.
- You may feel alone in this, but you aren’t.
- People may tell you you’re overreacting, but that’s what people usually tell revolutionaries.
The bottom line is this: leverage your influence to create the world you want to see. Make it happen. If you have the conviction, you also have the power. Start at your dining room table and then keep chipping away at it. As I said earlier, stop waiting for others to make the first move. Leverage the influence you have, today.
Do you need a consultant to help you think and talk differently about diversity and inclusion, so you can lead differently and produce measurable, sustainable results? Hire me.