Inclusion Riders Explained

Cohen Milstein

February 16, 2023

What is an Inclusion Rider? 

An inclusion rider is a provision in an actor or content creator’s contract designed to promote diversity in film casting and production. It sets forth a hiring process that incorporates elements including: 

  • Commitment to deepening and diversifying hiring pools 
  • Establishment of benchmarks/targets for hiring 
  • Collection, measurement, and analysis of application and hiring data 
  • Implementation of measures of accountability for progress toward hiring goals 

The inclusion rider is a powerful tool that organizations and professionals can use to advance representation in the film and other industries. 

Adopting an Inclusion Rider 

Inclusion riders are based on a template that was originally developed by Cohen Milstein alumna Kalpana Kotagal along with Fanshen Cox of Pearl Street Films and Dr. Stacy L. Smith of the Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. We encourage you to download the current version of the template, as well as our model policy for companies: 

These materials provide a flexible framework adaptable to various contexts. They should be considered together with legal counsel. 

A Brief History of the Inclusion Rider 

The idea for the inclusion rider originated at Pearl Street Films in the fall of 2016. It was intended as a way for Hollywood A-listers to help make the industry more equitable both on- and off-camera. 

Soon after, several companies committed to adopting inclusion riders, including: 

  • AMC Studios 
  • Forest Whitaker’s Significant Productions 
  • Scott Budnick’s One Community 
  • Stephanie Allain’s HomeGrown Pictures 
  • Layne Eskridge’s POV 
  • Jeff Friday Media 
  • Lynette Howell Taylor’s 51 Entertainment 
  • Carri Twigg and Nicole Galovski’s Culture House 
  • Matt Nicholas and Nastassja Kayln’s Rebel Maverick
  • Farhoud Meybodi’s Ritual Arts 
  • Harry and Gina Belafonte’s 
  • Portal A 

The inclusion rider gained worldwide attention following the 2018 Academy Awards, where it was mentioned by Frances McDormand in her Best Actress acceptance speech. 

In 2021, a reimagined inclusion rider template was released, as well as a model inclusion rider policy for companies. These materials were developed by Kalpana Kotagal, Fanshen Cox, and Endeavor Content HR head Dr. Tasmin Platter as part of a coalition involving Color Of Change’s #ChangeHollywood initiative.  

The updated inclusion rider expands on the original legal framework. It focuses on intersectional inclusivity, encompassing gender, race and ethnicity, LGBTQIA identity, age, and disability. It also provides additional tools for hiring crew from underrepresented backgrounds and introduced accountability measures.