Airbnb Newsroom

Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt Joins Airbnb as Head of Global Diversity and Belonging

At Airbnb, our mission is to create a world where anyone can belong anywhere, and we cannot achieve our mission without a diverse workforce. Today, we are proud to announce that Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt is joining Airbnb as our new Head of Global Diversity and Belonging.

In her role at Airbnb, Thomas-Hunt will serve on Airbnb’s Executive Team and lead the strategy and execution of our global internal diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging programs for Airbnb’s 5,000 employees around the world.

We aspire to be a global leader in diversity and belonging – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s core to our mission. To have the impact we want on the world, we have to start inside our own walls and make sure every employee at Airbnb feels like they belong. Melissa is a visionary in this space who has spent her career exploring the causes of inequality, finding solutions to promote inclusion, and producing real change. I am incredibly grateful that she has agreed to bring her leadership and expertise to Airbnb.

Brian Chesky, Co-Founder, CEO and Head of Community

An expert on building inclusive, global teams, Thomas-Hunt joins Airbnb from Vanderbilt University, where she served as Vice Provost for Inclusive Excellence. In that role, she was responsible for helping advance equity, diversity and inclusion in Vanderbilt’s academic research and community of almost 22,000 students, staff and faculty. Prior to her work at Vanderbilt, Thomas-Hunt served as Global Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, where she was focused on ensuring that the student community was seen, heard, valued and supported.

Thomas-Hunt held Full, Associate and Assistant Professorial roles for over 20 years at schools such as Vanderbilt, the University of Virginia, Cornell University, and Washington University in St Louis. Her research and teaching focused on organizational behavior and the factors that unleash, leverage and amplify the talents and contributions made by women and underrepresented individuals. She began her career at IBM as a Marketing Representative and received her master’s and doctoral degrees from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management and her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University.

I felt deeply called by Airbnb’s mission and purpose. Increasing belonging is powerful, compelling and complex to operationalize. By continuing to build a diverse and inclusive team around the world, we can help individuals shift and shape their trajectory to realize their full potential, and I am honored to join Airbnb to help achieve these goals.

Melissa Thomas-Hunt, Airbnb’s Head of Diversity and Belonging

In recent years, Airbnb has launched a series of initiatives like the Airbnb Community Commitment and Open Doors policies that help fight discrimination and promote belonging. Thomas-Hunt will advise Airbnb on these and other initiatives that are designed to work to fight bias and ensure our community is open and fair for all hosts and guests.

Leaders are ultimately curators and stewards of an organization’s climate and culture. My role at Airbnb is to equip them with the skills to connect with individuals across backgrounds, embed conversations about diversity, inclusion and belonging throughout all of our businesses, and to help weave an organizational fabric that enables every member of our global team to feel like they belong.

Melissa Thomas-Hunt, Airbnb’s Head of Diversity and Belonging

Thomas-Hunt will relocate to San Francisco and begin her role on May 13, 2019, reporting to Beth Axelrod, Vice President of Global Employee Experience.

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