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Here’s A First Hand Look At How Airbnb Is Working To Fight Discrimination

By Shenae Curry

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Airbnb, everyone’s favorite home away from home, has changed the travel landscape by making home sharing easier and more convenient, all while facilitating personal connections.

Their mission is to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere, and this means discrimination has no place in that community. 

In 2016, Airbnb announced a comprehensive review of the platform to help ensure they are doing everything to fight bias and discrimination.

Laura Murphy, the former head of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington D.C. Legislative Office, lead the process, and she issued a comprehensive report. Airbnb followed up by committing to an Action Plan and was commended by the Congressional Black Caucus, the Human Rights Campaign, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and others. The report and plan was a good start, but they knew there was still work to be done.

“Airbnb did not allow my recommendations to gather dust on a shelf. Instead, Airbnb has taken decisive steps to battle unlawful discrimination and to make its community more open and fair for everyone,” said Laura Murphy, who has worked with Airbnb closely through the Action Plan outlined in her 2016 Report.

Now, three years later, Airbnb has reviewed their progress and are issuing a new report on the work to date and the work they will continue to do in the years ahead.

Here are some highlights of their report; Three Year Review of Airbnb’s Work to Fight Discrimination and Build Inclusion

The Community Commitment and Nondiscrimination Policy

“The Community Commitment and Nondiscrimination Policy were successfully rolled out in November 2016, making it mandatory for anyone who uses Airbnb to explicitly agree to a standard and to adhere to a Nondiscrimination Policy that goes beyond what is required by law, in most jurisdictions. The Community Commitment states: 

“I agree to treat everyone in the Airbnb community—regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age—with respect, and without judgment or bias.” 

Over 1 million users have declined Airbnb’s Community Commitment and as a result, have been denied the ability to use Airbnb.”

A Permanent Specialized Team Working to Fight Bias and Discrimination 

“At Airbnb, Product Teams work to improve the website and mobile app for the entire community and are composed of engineers, data scientists, researchers, and designers. Since 2016, Airbnb assembled a permanent product team dedicated to rooting out bias. This team has worked on product changes that help users easily report negative content and the removal of guest profile pictures from the booking process. Within the tech industry, Airbnb is one of the few companies with a dedicated product team with this charter.” 

Guest Pictures Are No Longer Displayed in Reservation Requests

“In October 2018, Airbnb made a global change to the way guest profile photos are displayed in the booking request process. Now, rather than displaying a potential guest’s profile photo before the booking is accepted, hosts receive a guest’s photo only after they’ve accepted the booking request.”

Thousands of Hosts Completed Training to Mitigate Unconscious Bias 

“In 2017, Airbnb created and distributed comprehensive anti-bias training materials for hosts. Thousands of hosts have completed the digital training videos and have received recognition for this demonstration of commitment to their mission. The training is a standard welcome communication for new hosts and will be offered as educational material in several languages about our Community Commitment, our Anti-Discrimination Policy, and how to avoid unconscious bias.”

Partnerships

“Airbnb recognizes that the work to create belonging can never be fully achieved unless our community reflects the global community. To help to improve the diversity of our community of hosts and guests, they have forged long-term partnerships with expert groups, including a regular convening of a group of civil rights and privacy organizations that help advise their work.

In the US, Airbnb has partnered with the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) to engage residents in communities of color about the financial opportunity that exists for Home and Experience hosts on Airbnb. To date, they have launched host recruitment events with local NAACP chapters in Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Atlanta, and Seattle. Recently, they launched a national partnership with LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) to promote entrepreneurship through Airbnb Experiences for Latina entrepreneurs, as well as to collaborate on work with local communities to incentivize home sharing for economic empowerment.”

You can read up on the full review here: “Three Year Review of Airbnb’s Work to Fight Discrimination and Build Inclusion“. 

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Shenae Curry

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