The Recording Academy is set to incorporate an inclusion rider in hiring contracts for the upcoming Grammy Awards, set for Jan. 31 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. This would make the Grammys the first major awards show to publicly commit to such a clause.
In collaboration with Color of Change, the Academy’s addition of an inclusion rider is intended to create a more diverse awards ceremony through the implementation of more equitable recruiting and hiring practices.
The inclusion rider will be added as an addendum to the contracts between the Recording Academy and Fulwell 73 Productions, the Grammys’ production company. The goal of the inclusion rider is “to make its best effort to recruit, audition, interview, and hire on-stage and off-stage people who have been historically and systematically excluded from the industry,” according to a press statement.
As the Grammys continue to push for diversity within its organization and onstage, CEO Harvey Mason Jr. says he hopes other organizations will follow suit. “We’re honored to work alongside Color Of Change and the inclusion rider’s esteemed co-authors as we take this monumental step to ensure equitable industry standards that support a more diverse and inclusive music community,” he said in a statement. “As the Academy continues its transformational journey, diversifying our industry is at the core of every decision we make. We’re dedicated to fostering an environment of inclusion industry-wide and hope that our efforts set an example for our peers in the music community.”
In collaboration with Color of Change, a civil rights nonprofit, the inclusion rider initiative at next year’s Grammys is a practical way for the Academy to support historically underrepresented communities in media and entertainment. “There are a lot of unwritten rules in the entertainment industry that create racial exclusion, and at Color Of Change, we know that to change society you have to change the rules,” Rashad Robinson, president of Color of Change, said in a statement. “This Inclusion Rider is a written rule that will change the culture of hiring at the Grammys, and will make inclusion the norm. We are proud to partner with the Recording Academy and hope that this joint effort inspires other entertainment industry leaders to join us in our fight for equity by adopting the Inclusion Rider.”
Co-written by Kalpana Kotagal, a civil rights lawyer and partner at Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll, the rider clause is intended to keep institutions accountable in creating change. “The Grammy Awards inclusion rider will include the fundamental elements of the tool, including a commitment to deepening and diversifying hiring pools, setting benchmarks and targets for hiring, collecting and thoroughly analyzing applicant and hiring data and implementing accountability measures,” says Kotagal.
Besides Kotagal, the inclusion rider was co-authored by Fanshen Cox, head of strategic outreach at Pearl Street Films; Valeisha Butterfield Jones, co-president at the Academy; and Ryan Butler, founding director at Warner Music | Blavatnik Center for Music Business at Howard University.
The Academy’s full inclusion rider addendum will be made public on Sept. 16.
The first time many people heard the phrase “inclusion rider” was at the Academy Awards in March 2018, when Frances McDormand won best actress for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. After asking “all the female nominees in every category” to stand, she said: “Look around, ladies and gentlemen, because we all have stories to tell and projects we need financed. Don’t talk to us about it at the parties tonight. Invite us into your office in a couple days — or you can come to ours, whichever suits you best — and we’ll tell you all about them. I have two words to leave with you tonight, ladies and gentlemen: inclusion rider.”