Airbnb pledges to combat discrimination

Airbnb pledges to combat discrimination

A new policy is being introduced by Airbnb to combat reports that black people are less likely to get rooms.

The move by the online accommodation site includes reducing the prominence of photos, introducing new technology, and asking users to sign an anti-discrimination agreement.

A study last year found that people with names that suggested they were black were discriminated against.

Many customers have also complained about the issue.

Using the Twitter hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack, many users said that they had been told a particular listing was unavailable, only to discover that the same places were re-advertised as available on the dates they had wanted.

Chief executive Brian Chesky apologised in an email to users for being slow to address the concerns.

“Bias and discrimination have no place on Airbnb, and we have zero tolerance for them,” he said.

“Unfortunately, we have been slow to address these problems, and for this I am sorry.”

The statement follows a report commissioned by the company from Laura Murphy, a former official with the American Civil Liberties Union.

As a result, anyone using Airbnb from November 1 must agree to a stronger, more detailed non-discrimination policy.

Chesky said: “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’.”

A new ‘open doors’ policy from October 1 means that any guest who feels like they have been discriminated against will be found a similar place to stay.

The company is to expand its instant booking scheme, which allows guests to book rooms immediately and without specific approval from the host. It plans to have one million listings bookable in this way by January 1, 2017.

Airbnb staff will also be offered anti-bias training.

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