An Update on Airbnb’s Work to Fight Discrimination

Airbnb has changed the travel landscape by making home sharing easier and more convenient, all while facilitating personal connections. Our mission is to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere, and this means discrimination has no place in our community. 

In 2016, we announced a comprehensive review of our platform to help ensure we are doing everything we can to fight bias and discrimination. We asked Laura Murphy, the former head of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington D.C. Legislative Office, to lead the process, and she issued a comprehensive report. We committed to an Action Plan and were commended by the Congressional Black Caucus, the Human Rights Campaign, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, and others. The report and our plan was a good start, but we knew we still had work to do.

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

“We want to ensure that we are doing all we can to advance this mission-critical work and be accountable.

We believe travel and hosting can build bridges and create meaningful connections, so fighting bias and discrimination must be ingrained in everything we do. It’s an enormous challenge, and our commitment is to keep pushing forward.”

Belinda Johnson, Chief Operating Officer at Airbnb.

We’ve reached important milestones, developed new policies and enforcement standards, improved our platform and increased diversity inside our company and within our community of hosts and guests. Our work is nowhere near finished. This is a challenging issue, and we must do more. We appreciate the guidance and counsel we received from our community and Civil Rights and Privacy organizations during this process and look forward to strengthening this engagement.

“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 followed up routinely with us as we worked through the Action Plan outlined in her 2016 Report.

Please find some highlights listed below, or click to read our full report: Three Year Review of Airbnb’s Work to Fight Discrimination and Build Inclusion“. 

The Community Commitment and Nondiscrimination Policy 

Our 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. Our community has grown to over 6 million listings and 40,000 experiences — and over half a billion cumulative guest arrivals. Our community is growing with a shared pledge of respect and acceptance. 

A Permanent Specialized Team Working to Fight Bias and Discrimination 

At Airbnb, Product Teams work to improve the website and mobile app for our 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 request 

In October 2018, we 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. 

Nearly 70% of over 6 million accommodations are “Instant Book” 

Airbnb wants to make booking a place to stay easy for everyone. Instant Book allows certain listings to be booked immediately — without prior host approval of a specific guest. In 2016, we set a goal of making one million listings bookable via Instant Book by January 2017. We easily surpassed this goal. As of July 2019, nearly 70 percent of all Airbnb’s 6+ million listings can be booked using Airbnb’s Instant Book feature. Guests can choose their travel dates, book, and then discuss check-in plans with the host. There is no additional fee for Instant Book. 

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 our mission. We continue to promote the training as standard welcome communications to new hosts and will be offering educational material in several languages about our Community Commitment, our Anti-Discrimination Policy, and how to avoid unconscious bias. 

Partnerships 

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

In the US, we have 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 we have launched host recruitment events with local NAACP chapters in Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Atlanta, and Seattle. We’ve recently 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. 

Click to read our full report: “Three Year Review of Airbnb’s Work to Fight Discrimination and Build Inclusion“. 

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