Why It’s Time For a Fashion Industry Inclusion Rider

Frances McDormand, in her Best Actress acceptance speech at the Oscars, brought the term inclusion rider into our collective consciousness—and now people across industries are adopting the term. Fashion might be the latest to embrace this new form of social responsibility.

McDormand said in the press room after the ceremony, “I just found out about this last week. [This] has always been available to all—everybody that does a negotiation on a film, an inclusion rider—which means that you can ask for and/or demand at least 50 percent diversity in not only the casting but also the crew.”

It may seem like a new term, but the concept has actually been around for a while now. Dee Rees, director of Mudbound, told Buzzfeed, “A lot of people of color have been doing that for a long time, unofficially, and demanding a certain number of people on set be people of color.” So what does this mean for the fashion world?

At SXSW, Nicolette Mason, fashion blogger and co-founder of plus-size brand Premme, used the term inclusion rider while speaking during the “Resistance & Disruption Through Diversity & Data” panel.

“When we talk about using your privilege and the power that you have in order to say ‘no,’ there’s so much power in saying ‘I will do this if…'” said Mason. “And so for a lot of offers that I’ve gotten lately, I’ll ask who else is casted in the program, or in the campaign, and if I am their only diverse person that doesn’t really reflect very well on them in my opinion and the answer is ‘no.'”

When it comes to high fashion, many industry people have agreed an inclusion rider is often nowhere to be found. Casting director Gilleon Smith, who has cast Chromat’s very inclusive shows, told WhoWhatWear that a lack of “‘fashion police’ regulating policies and procedures in terms of how ethically work is conducted” creates an environment where inclusion riders are fairly unheard of.

For industries that struggle with diversity (which is pretty much every industry) influencers and celebrities using an inclusion rider could use their power to drive change. “For instance, a designer or a model could use an inclusion rider in negotiations with a fashion house to press for greater consideration of diverse models in spring/fall runway shows, or for behind-the-scenes staff. The idea could also be used to diversify the faces appearing in print ads,” Kalpana Kotagal, lawyer and chair of Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll’s Hiring and Diversity Committee, said to WhoWhatWear.

Now the question is, who’s going to be fashion’s Frances McDormand? Fashion needs someone to step up to a mainstream public platform and insist on inclusion riders for more people to listen.


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