Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has refused to back calls for contractual diversity in the media, following discussions inspired by Frances McDormand’s Oscar speech – which brought the term ‘inclusion rider’ to public attention.
According to McDormand, an inclusion rider is a clause that any actor can have added to their contract. “[It] means that you can ask for and/or demand at least 50% diversity, not only in casting but also [in] the crew,” the actress explained backstage at the Academy Awards.
“We’re not so big on doing everything through agreements,” said Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, at a press meeting at its offices, as reported by USA Today. “We’re trying to do things creatively.”
Hastings prefers to ‘speak with the filmmakers about how many women and people of colour are working on the project before shooting begins,’ according to the outlet. “That’s how we look at it,” Hastings said.
Netflix has had a bit of bad press on the subject recently – with the showrunners of their flagship programme Stranger Things being accused of verbally abusing a female employee during the shooting of the second series of the show (an accusation Netflix has investigated, and refuted).
More recently, it was revealed that Matt Smith was paid more than Claire Foy on The Crown, despite the fact he plays a supporting character and she’s the star of the show.
Netflix’s diversity problem extends to its own employees – with no black members of its main board (which has a 70% / 30% gender split in favour of men) and only 4% of the workforce made up of black people.
With diversity an increasingly important issue amongst the millennials who invented the hashtag #Netflixandchill, the streaming giant had better be careful it doesn’t fall on the wrong side of history on the issue – or #Netflixandcancel could start trending.
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