Today Airbnb sent out an email to their customers expresses regret for the discrimination that has occured within their platform. For those unaware, Airbnb is a room sharing application. Anyone looking to travel to a city can choose to stay at someone’s home or apartment for a nominal fee. As a replacement to the hotel option, Airbnb has thrived.
Unfortunately, this has lead some “Guests” to experience discrimination. When selecting a room, cancellations by the owner can happen immediately and without explanation. If you see a certain group of people giving excellent reviews to a room, it makes sense that you want to stay there as well. An unexplained cancellation can leave you feeling frustrated, especially if you have a top review as a guest.
This new commitment is fantastic and I applaud the attempt. Some may argue that since they are offering their home, they may share it with whoever they want. In this instance, that is not exactly true. Airbnb is the facilitator and thus, they make the rules. For those not willing to be more open with their accommodations, they will not be penalized, however Airbnb will help those Guests who were turned away. To see their exact explanations and reasoning, check out the email below:
Dear Airbnb community,
At the heart of our mission is the idea that people are fundamentally good and every community is a place where you can belong. We don’t say this because it sounds nice. It’s the goal that everyone at Airbnb works towards every day – because we’ve all seen how when we live together, we better understand each other.
Discrimination is the opposite of belonging, and its existence on our platform jeopardizes this core mission. Bias and discrimination have no place on Airbnb, and we have zero tolerance for them. Unfortunately, we have been slow to address these problems, and for this I am sorry. I take responsibility for any pain or frustration this has caused members of our community. We will not only make this right; we will work to set an example that other companies can follow.
In June, we asked Laura Murphy, the former head of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington D.C. Legislative Office, to review every aspect of the Airbnb platform, and to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to fight bias and discrimination. Thanks to Laura’s leadership, today we’re releasing a report that outlines the results of that process. You can read the full report here, but I’d like to highlight four changes that will impact the way our platform works:
Airbnb Community Commitment
Beginning November 1, everyone who uses Airbnb must agree to a stronger, more detailed nondiscrimination policy. We aren’t just asking you to check a box associated with a long legal document. We’re asking everyone to agree to something we’re calling the Airbnb Community Commitment, which says:
We believe that no matter who you are, where you are from, or where you travel, you should be able to belong in the Airbnb community. By joining this community, you commit to treat all fellow members of this community, regardless of race, religion, national origin, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age, with respect, and without judgment or bias.
We’ll be implementing a new policy called Open Doors. StartingOctober 1st, if a Guest anywhere in the world feels like they have been discriminated against in violation of our policy – in trying to book a listing, having a booking canceled, or in any other interaction with a host – we will find that Guest a similar place to stay if one is available on Airbnb, or if not, we will find them an alternative accommodation elsewhere. This program will also apply retroactively to any Guest who reported discrimination prior to today. All of these Guests will be offered booking assistance for their next trip.
We’ll increase the availability of Instant Book, which allows our hosts to offer their homes to be booked immediately without their prior approval of a specific guest. Instant Book makes booking easier for everyone, and our goal is to have 1 million listings bookable via Instant Book by January 1st, 2017.
We are working with experts on bias, including Dr. Robert Livingston of the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Dr. Peter Glick of Lawrence University, to make anti-bias training available to our community, and will be publicly acknowledging those who complete it.
These steps are just the beginning, not the end, of our efforts to combat bias and discrimination.
While we as a company have been slow on this issue, I am now asking you the community to help us lead the way forward. Every time you make someone else feel like they belong, that person feels accepted and safe to be themselves. While this may sound like a small act of kindness, we are a community of millions of people strong. Imagine what we can do together.