What Could an Inclusion Rider Mean for the Meetings Industry?

The two words Frances McDormand used to close out her Oscar speech—inclusion rider—could mean something to more than just the film industry. It could also change how speakers approach meetings.

After asking all the female Academy Award nominees to stand up and be recognized, Frances McDormand closed her rousing acceptance speech for the best actress Oscar on Sunday night with this:

“I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider.”

Those two words left a lot of people—including those in the Dolby Theatre that evening and viewers at home—wondering what exactly an inclusion rider was.

As NPR simply stated,  “It’s a stipulation that actors and actresses can ask (or demand) to have inserted into their contracts, which would require a certain level of diversity among a film’s cast and crew.”

McDormand, who told reporters after the ceremony that she had just heard of the concept last week, has already convinced some others in Hollywood to sign on. Immediately following McDormand’s acceptance speech, Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson tweeted her support, writing, “I’m committed to the Inclusion Rider. Who’s with me?”

Then, a few days later, Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan posted on Instagram that he would be including the clause in deals made with his production company, Outlier Society.

“In support of the women & men who are leading this fight, I will be adopting the Inclusion Rider for all projects produced by my company Outlier Society,” Jordan wrote. “I’ve been privileged to work with powerful woman & persons of color throughout my career & it’s Outlier’s mission to continue to create for talented individuals going forward.”

ITS Impact on Association Meetings

While the concept of an inclusion rider—introduced by Stacy L. Smith, director of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative at USC, in a 2014 column in The Hollywood Reporter—was initially directed at the film industry, its relevance could be much broader.

Consider how the idea could affect your association’s conferences and meetings.

For instance, it could become more commonplace for conference speakers to incorporate an inclusion rider into their contracts. In it, they might stipulate that they won’t speak at your event unless you can show a certain level of diversity among fellow speakers or even attendees and staff.

In fact, the whole idea of speaker parity is not new to the meetings industry. Back in 2016, I blogged about the GenderAvenger pledge, which asks panelists to decline participating in a conference panel where women aren’t included. And following McDormand’s speech Sunday night, there was some conversation on Twitter around how it could potentially be applied to the conference space.

Is your association prepared for conference speakers adding inclusion riders or something similar into their contracts? If you’re not, now is probably a good time to get on that.

Oscar winner Frances McDormand. (YouTube screenshot)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

Got an article tip for us? Contact us and let us know!