What is an Inclusion Rider?

Kalpana Kotagal

“There is an unbelievable amount of talent being passed over with the idea that there is a talent crisis when, actually, there is an opportunity crisis” Rev. Jesse Jackson of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

The Annenberg Inclusion Initiative was started at The University of Southern California Annenberg's School for Communication and Journalism by founder Stacy Smith alongside lawyer Kalpana Kotagal and actor-producer Fanshen Cox DiGiovanni. An inclusion rider as they coined the term refers to a provision added to actors’ contracts to ensure that casting on productions is more representative. It stipulates that in small and supporting roles, characters should reflect the world we live in. That includes 50 percent gender parity, 40 percent inclusion for people of color, 5 percent L.G.B.T.Q., and 20 percent disabled. They believe that this rider would increase diversity and better reflect our world’s demographic makeup by boosting representation of women, people of color, LGBTQ people and the disabled population in onscreen roles. The goal is to erase bias by slowing down the auditioning and casting process to ensure equal representation for everyone.

Among the 100 top films of 2016, in a study by Smith’s team hey found, just 31.4% of speaking characters were women —1.5% increase from 2007. Under 30% of all characters came from underrepresented racial or ethnic groups.

So can and should Inclusion Riders or some derivative thereof be included in hiring practices of companies as their own personal mission and initiative to attract and hire more diverse and inclusive employees? Could this be an effective solution to the lack of diversity in Technology? Some may argue no as it would just create a new quota system to fill but this could also help to increase the number of underrepresented populations in the sector. Which could create a powerful incentive for businesses to address diversity as a matter of urgency if funding and investors add this as a clause in their contracts. Money might just be the most influential factor to bring about this well needed change. To find out more information about inclusion and diversity contact us at info@circleofopportunities.com.

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