March 09, 2018

By Kalpana Kotagal

Kalpana Kotagal is a partner in the Civil Rights & Employment practice group at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll and chair of the firm’s Hiring and Diversity Committee.

Last Sunday evening, I turned off the Academy Awards just a few minutes before Frances McDormand won her much-deserved Oscar. The following morning, I awoke to the startling — but wonderful — news that, while I slept, a project I had been quietly working on for months had been catapulted into public awareness by the year’s best actress during her acceptance speech.

McDormand had concluded her remarks with two cryptic words — “inclusion rider” — which prompted a flurry of Web searches around the globe to figure out what she was talking about. As an author of the inclusion rider, I was personally thrilled by the shout-out; as a woman of color living in a society that still struggles to fully value and promote diversity, I think McDormand’s elevation of the inclusion rider was critically important for all of us.


I am grateful to McDormand for opening a national conversation about the inclusion rider and what it could achieve. Now is the time for A-listers to step up, to use their clout to open the floodgates to talent in all its forms and origins, and to help build an entertainment industry that truly reflects — and celebrates — our multifaceted world.

The full opinion piece can be accessed here.