Frances McDornand gave a speech at the Oscars in which she asked everyone to include an “inclusion rider” in their contracts. Like most people around the country, I had to google it to find out what an “inclusion rider” is.
What the heck is an inclusion rider? It’s a way to make Hollywood more equitable. Actors sign contracts when they are cast in films, and they have the ability to negotiate for riders, or additional provisions. An inclusion rider is a stipulation that the minor roles of a film reflect the demography of where the film takes place, including a proportionate number of women, minorities, LGBTQ individuals and people with disabilities. Big name actors who have leverage in negotiations could put this stipulation into their contracts and drastically change representation in film.
Hey! Why don’t we have such a thing for speakers at atheist cons (maybe you do, and I just don’t know about it)? This would be so useful. You want me to speak at your event? Great! But part of the deal is that I don’t show up and discover that I’m one among a big roster of nothing but old white men.
Or maybe you don’t want me anyway, and that’s fine — but what would be really powerful is if all those popular old white men also had an “inclusion rider” in their contracts that would motivate conference organizers to be a bit more balanced in their lineups if they want Big Name Atheist to join their meeting. It might also be revealing to find out which Big Name Atheists don’t want to leverage greater inclusivity in the events they grace.
My one obstacle is ignorance. We made a big push to have reasonable harassment policies at cons a few years ago. Maybe this would be a good next step: if someone who knows the legalese to craft a basic boilerplate conference speaker contract, I’d be happy to use it and would include it in any of my agreements to speak somewhere as a requirement. If enough of us start using such a thing, conference organizers would have to accommodate to them and figure them into the speaker lineups they put together.
Or they could just start automatically rejecting speakers who expect an appropriate gender and minority balance. That would be good to know about a conference, too.
(Psst. Science conferences, too. Any event where there exists a more desirable class of speakers — use your power to promote more diversity.)