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From Hollywood to Canada: Inclusion Riders and the End of Canada’s Employee Diversity Problem

By Justin D'Onofrio

Last week, during the 90th Annual Academy Awards Ceremony, the recipient of the Best Actress Oscar for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri, Frances McDormand ended her acceptance speech with “I have two words to say to you tonight: Inclusion Rider”. Her ending statement garnered a smattering of applause, leaving the audience both at the ceremony and at home confused, so much so that Merriam Webster dictionary tweeted that “Inclusion Rider” became the most popular search of the night.

What is an Inclusion Rider?

An Inclusion Rider is a clause in an actor’s contract that allows them to demand that the film’s cast and crew meets a certain threshold of diversity that reflects society (i.e. 50/50 gender diversity). Like any clause in a contract, if it is not respected, damages can be sought - most likely a fine. The term was first popularized in a TED Talk in 2016 by Stacy Smith, the founder of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at the University of Southern California and its main goal is to combat the unconscious bias of the auditioning and casting process in Hollywood.