A Message from Melissa Thomas-Hunt

Last month, I was delighted to begin my work as Airbnb’s Head of Global Diversity and Belonging. In the short time I’ve been here, I have been humbled by the warm welcome and spirit of collaboration and partnership with which colleagues from across the country and around the world have greeted me. The commitment to creating a world where anyone can belong anywhere is palpable.

The team at Airbnb includes people from diverse backgrounds, and I came to work here, in part, because Airbnb’s leaders are committed to building a team where everyone can succeed. I have been excited to see the commitment of those leaders—and also from our strong and vibrant network of Airfinity groups who work tirelessly to infuse our community with additional awareness, guidance and cultural engagement. Through them we are able to accelerate our progress advancing diversity and belonging.

But committing to building a diverse company isn’t enough. We will have to persist and continually examine every aspect of the ways in which and with whom we work to ensure that diversity and belonging are truly integrated into Airbnb. For Airbnb to truly be a 21st Century Company, diversity and belonging must be central to how we operate and woven into the fabric of everything we do. We want to set the standard for what an equitable and inclusive workplace should be, and we have a lot of work to do to meet that goal. 

Now in my second month on the job, I wanted to provide a brief update about some of the things my team and I will be working on in the months ahead to help keep my colleagues, our community and those who share our commitment to creating a world where anyone can belong anywhere informed. 

Here’s some of what’s on my agenda:

  • Sharing More Data

Airbnb believes that data is foundational, playing a critical role when it comes to informing our efforts to advance our work on diversity and belonging. In particular, sharing data with our employees and other stakeholders is important to hold ourselves accountable for making overall progress. To that end, Airbnb has published data regarding the diversity of our US-based employees on an annual basis; you can see the latest data here

We are committed to continuing to develop, use, share and publish data with important stakeholders, beginning with our employees. That is why today, we shared global diversity data updated as of May 1, 2019 with our employees. Some of the new information we shared includes:

  • The population of US-based women employees at Airbnb is 44 percent.
  • The population of Dublin-based women employees at our EMEA hub office is 56 percent.
  • The population of Singapore-based women employees at our Asia-Pacific hub office is 62 percent.
  • The population of Beijing-based women employees at Airbnb is 49 percent.
  • The population of global employees aged 40 or older at Airbnb is 15 percent.

Additionally, we built upon that effort this morning with a company-wide Let’s Talk Diversity Roundtable for employees and will have much more to come in the months ahead.

With this more comprehensive dataset, we now have a baseline from which to measure and create accountability for progress. Measurement is not enough, of course, but I believe it is vital to help us innovate creative solutions in service to our mission. For example, the data has revealed decreases of less than one percent in our global women and US-based underrepresented minority employee populations since January 1, 2019 (0.9 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively). Any decline warrants our attention and action, so we are diving into the data to understand best next steps. We remain committed to our goal of ensuring that 13 percent of our US-based employees are from underrepresented communities by the end of the first quarter of 2020 and that we reach gender parity at all levels across our organization around the world by then.

  • Making our Culture Stronger 

As we grow, it is essential that we continue to build a culture that values every employee and gives everyone the chance to build a successful career. This week, we kicked off an internal inventory of our diversity and belonging efforts, leveraging what we can learn from our qualitative and quantitative engagement survey data.

  • Expanding the Dialogue

Part of building a strong company that welcomes diverse people and points of view is giving everyone the chance to discuss these issues and learn from experts. In the coming months, we will host experts such as Stanford Professor Jennifer Eberhardt, who will discuss her book, Biased: Uncovering the Hidden Prejudice That Shapes What We See, Think, and Do. Convening these kinds of forums for dialogue and learning can help all of us as we move forward.

  • Ensuring our Company is Open and Equitable

All of us at Airbnb were shocked by an incident several weeks ago where a host used reprehensible and vile language when speaking to a group of Black guests. Bigotry has no place on Airbnb, and the host who was involved in this incident was immediately and permanently banned from our community. Over the course of three years, Airbnb has instituted a number of policies to help fight discrimination and bias. Our Community Commitment requires everyone who uses Airbnb to treat one another with dignity and respect. The Open Doors policy ensures anyone who believes they have been discriminated against will have a place to stay. I will be working with my colleagues to ensure these and other policies are further strengthened and our work to fight discrimination never stops. The sad truth is that no one company is ever going to eliminate discrimination and bias, but we are committed to doing all we can to make Airbnb open and fair for everyone.

We must also recognize that when bias and discrimination emerge on our plaform, our community members with Black and other marginalized identities have old wounds opened and find themselves receiving messages of concern and disappointment from family and friends. An acknowledging message to a team member or collaborator checking on them goes a long way. Silence on the topic can be isolating.

Our collective success in moving diversity and belonging forward will ultimately be measured by whether Airbnb is a workplace that enables everyone to realize their potential by feeling valued, respected and able to contribute meaningfully. I am proud of the steps that have already been taken to make Airbnb stronger and confident in the dedication and passion that will be brought to the work that we will do together to build on that progress.

Melissa Thomas-Hunt, Head of Global Diversity & Belonging