In Frances Mc Dormand’s speech when accepting her Oscar for Best Actress in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” on Sunday night at the 90th Annual Academy Awards, said, “I have two words for you: Inclusion rider.”
She asked all the women in the audience nominated for Oscars to stand up, then she said “Look around, ladies and gentlemen, because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed.I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider.”
She explained afterward that she has just recently heard of a long time provision attached to a contract where you can ask for/demand at least 50% diversity, not only in the casting but also in the crew.”
According to Slate at the moment McDormand spoke those cryptic words, Google had only 125 results for the phrase “inclusion rider,” most of which seemed to be unrelated to cinema.
The answer was found in a TED talk by Stacy Smith, the founder and director of USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. She explained the idea:
“A-listers, as we all know, can make demands in their contracts, particularly the ones that work on the biggest Hollywood films. What if those A-listers simply added an equity clause or an inclusion rider into their contract? Now, what does that mean?
Well, you probably don’t know, but the typical feature film has about 40 to 45 speaking characters in it. .. An equity rider by an A-lister in their contract can stipulate that those roles reflect the world in which we actually live. Now, there’s no reason why a network, a studio or a production company cannot adopt the same contractual language in their negotiation processes.”
Smith said A-list stars could use inclusion riders to ensure proper representation and inclusion of women, people of color, LGBT people and people with disabilities.
Inclusion Riders in the Corporate World
How about Inclusion or Equity riders in the corporate world? Could it become a standard inclusion in an employment contract?
Employment Equity / Affirmative Action in South Africa
Here in South Africa we have Employment Equity or Affirmative Action or Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBBE) – all names for the same process to try to make the workplace more representative and fair and guarantee equal opportunities at all levels.
In spite of this and over 23 years of democracy whites still dominate almost two-thirds of top management positions.
According to the latest employment equity report. White males commanded 68.5% of top management positions nationally, followed by black males who claimed 14.4%, while 4.9% of top management jobs were occupied by coloureds.
Nationally 78% of top management positions were held by men and 22% were in the hands of women.
Process of Transformation
As our government steps up the process of transformation, we keep an eye on the USA where it looks like, in spite of, or because of the Trump administration and its isolationist, oppressive push for America First, people are standing up. Women, teenagers, Hispanics, African Americans. They are realising that they can change their society to a more diverse and equitable one. And they are making their voices heard.
I hope here in South Africa, we can also be re-energised by their activist efforts and create a better, more equitable workplace and society.