In March 2018, Frances McDormand won an Academy Award for best actress for her lead role in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and introduced the term “inclusion rider” into pop culture consciousness during her acceptance speech. The speech sparked conversations on diversity and inclusion within the film and wider entertainment industry – prompting a reckoning on representation on and behind the camera.
While awards shows in film and television have yet to publicly commit to using an inclusion rider, the Grammys are leading the way by kicking off the practice in preparation for the 64th Grammy Awards.
“I am proud that the Academy is leading the charge in releasing an inclusion rider for the music community that counters systematic bias,” said Harvey Mason Jr., CEO of the Recording Academy, in a statement.
In partnership with Color Of Change, the Academy aims to include communities that have historically been left out of the music and entertainment industries by contractually obligating its producers to “consider individuals from those groups that have been most marginalized or disadvantaged,” according to the rider.
“With the inclusion rider, Color Of Change and the Recording Academy are working to change the rules that have enabled systemic discrimination in the music business for far too long,” adds Rashad Robinson, president of Color Of Change.
The inclusion rider was co-written by Kalpana Kotagal (partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll) and Fanshen Cox (production and development executive, Pearl Street Films) with contributions from Valeisha Butterfield Jones (co-president, Recording Academy) and Allie-Ryan Butler (founding director, Warner Music | Blavatnik Center for Music Business at Howard University).
According to the inclusion rider’s statement of purpose, the Academy’s aim is “to improve hiring practices for the productions and events in which it is involved, and thereby seeks to deepen diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility by taking affirmative measures to consider diverse applicant pools, hire qualified individuals from under-represented backgrounds, and to hold itself accountable by gathering and reporting information and making meaningful contributions to support the hiring of people from under-represented backgrounds.”
With that goal in mind, the clause states that one-third of applicants for on- and off-stage positions should come from underrepresented backgrounds. While the clause doesn’t specify any quotas, the senior leadership team is responsible for scouting applicants from underrepresented backgrounds for the on-stage positions (such as host, presenters, and performers) and off-stage positions (such as production designer, costume designer, and stylists).
To increase accountability, part seven of the inclusion rider states that the Recording Academy will submit a report following the 2022 Grammys to the Warner/Blavatnik Center to evaluate the ceremony’s efforts in increasing inclusion and diversity. The report will contain “the total number of individuals who auditioned, interviewed for, or were considered for each On-Stage or Relevant Off-Stage Position,” as well as how the individuals identified as (I.e., women, Black, indigenous, LGBTQ+, etc.).
Upon evaluation, if the Academy fails to meet the commitments of the inclusion rider, it “shall make a contribution of $100,000 to organizations whose work is committing to advancing toward equity in the music industry.” Some organizations named include MusiCares and Black Music Collective.
In addition to these guidelines, the inclusion rider also mentions efforts to have reasonable accommodations for those with disabilities, along with gender-neutral facilities and Indigenous land acknowledgement during “interviews and auditions,” according to section three of the addendum.
The full contract addendum can be read here.