By now, many of you have seen the disturbing video that began circulating over the weekend of the racial abuse that five of our guests were subjected to in New York City.
If you haven’t viewed the video yet, I encourage you to view it here, because to truly overcome bias and discrimination, we must face these types of incidents head on. We want to thank these men and so many people within and outside of the Airbnb community for bringing this incident to our attention so that we could take action.
The actions of the host and language used were abhorrent and have no place in the Airbnb Community – or anywhere. We started to take action as soon as we were made aware of this incident and within a matter of hours had permanently removed the host from Airbnb.
Our Open Doors program provides that if a guest anywhere in the world feels like they have been discriminated against in violation of our policy, we will help find them a similar place to stay if one is available on Airbnb, or if not, we will find them an alternative accommodation elsewhere, even as we are investigating their claim. We worked to support the guests impacted by this incident, but we regrettably were unable to help them secure a reservation at an available alternative accommodation. We apologize for any frustration that this process added to an already stressful situation and we are committed to improving our processes.
We launched the Airbnb Community Commitment in 2016 following a comprehensive review of our platform in an effort to fight bias and discrimination in the Airbnb community after learning that some of our guests were experiencing racism, intolerance and bigotry. The Commitment requires every host and guest on Airbnb to treat everyone in the Airbnb Community with respect, and without judgement or bias. The actions of this host clearly violated our Community Commitment, and it is for that reason that she is no longer welcome in the Airbnb community.
Since launching the Community Commitment, we have also formed an anti-discrimination product team who analyze how people may be experiencing the platform differently and make product adjustments to create a more equitable experience for everyone. For example, we’ve increased the use of Instant Book and designed new tools for our community to easily flag messages or content that contains hate speech or discriminatory language so that we can take appropriate actions. Our anti-discrimination product team, along with a cross-functional group of internal stakeholders, meet regularly to ensure that we are looking across the full guest experience on Airbnb. We also meet regularly with members of the civil rights community who help inform our work through partnership and guidance.
Incidents like this show that we still have a long way to go but we are fully committed to doing more, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s core to our mission of belonging. We have and continue to be in touch with the guests and hope to hear how we can improve moving forward directly from them.
Janaye Ingram is the Director of National Partnerships for Airbnb.