After months of criticism with the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack, the home-sharing site revealed a series of changes Thursday morning that finally address ongoing reports of racial discrimination, according to various news outlets.
Part of the changes to Airbnb will include less of an emphasis on user photo displays and expansion of its instant booking program, which allows guests to reserve rooms without host approval. NBC News reports the site will also reformat the “reservation request system that emphasizes trip details, reviews and verified IDs.” Beginning November 1, users will have to accept an agreement confirming they will treat everyone equally with respect and dignity.
“Bias and discrimination have no place on Airbnb, and we have zero tolerance for them,” CEO Brian Chesky wrote in an email to users. “Unfortunately, we have been slow to address these problems, and for this I am sorry.”
In an op-ed for The Huffington Post, former Attorney General Eric Holder – who was tapped by Airbnb to address discrimination concerns – announced the company took three months to survey the claims made by hosts and users, questioned employees at every level of Airbnb, and also reached out to civil rights advocates and organizations for input.
Holder also revealed that if a host is identified as discriminatory, engineers will use tracking tools to identify the offender. If a user experiences racism, the site will dedicate resources to help that user find housing.
The Congressional Black Caucus released a statement of support Thursday, commending the company for “taking this significant first step to address racial discrimination and exclusion of African-Americans and other minorities on the company’s platform.”
Airbnb will not only address diversity externally, but internally. The site announced it would work to diversify senior level staff and customer service representatives.
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