Just as Twitter is battling harassment, Airbnb if facing its own demons: hosts who discriminate. A report published in September by Harvard researchers found that, as previously believed, hosts are less likely to accept reservations from guests who are African-American. Hosts are 16% less likely to rent to someone whose name sounds African-American, all else being equal.
In a detailed report, Airbnb outlined policies and practices the company will implement. The Economist highlights two of the changes, referring to the first as the "most visible" and the second as "perhaps the most meaningful":
- Everyone signs a "community commitment" statement: “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.”
- If a host rejects a reservation, he or she will not be able to book the same nights with another guest. Airbnb also is starting an "Open Doors" program to help people who believe they were discriminated against find another place to stay.
Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky described these and more changes in an email to users:
- How well do you think Airbnb's initiatives will solve the problem of discrimination on its site? What else could the company do? Some advised that they remove profiles and use pseudonyms. What do you think?
- Assess Brian Chesky's email. Describe the components of the writing process he likely followed.