By Brian Chesky
The recent shootings in Minnesota, Texas, and Louisiana are shocking and tragic. I can’t begin to imagine the pain and anger felt by the families of the victims. I know it has rippled across the country, and it has deeply affected us here at Airbnb. We believe in trying to make this world feel a little more welcoming and inclusive. We believe that everyone should be treated equally, and with respect. We believe that Black Lives Matter, and we support those who are making their voices heard. We also support the brave police officers who often protect peaceful protesters, and who risk their lives every day for all of us.
But it’s not enough to just offer our sympathies. We aren’t so naïve to think that one company can solve these problems, but we understand that we have an obligation to be honest about our own shortcomings, and do more to get our house in order. That’s why we’ve been talking more openly about discrimination and bias on our platform, and are currently engaged in a process to prevent it.
In early June we announced that we would review every aspect of the Airbnb platform to help ensure we are doing everything we can to fight bias and discrimination. We are halfway through our review and want you to know more about some of the steps we’ve already started taking.
First, we’ve brought in outside experts and advisors to help guide our efforts. Laura Murphy, the former head of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington D.C. Legislative Office, is leading the review process. Under her leadership, we’ve convened meetings with civil rights leaders from across the country and held working sessions with employees at Airbnb to get their input.
We are honored that former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has agreed to join our team to help craft a world-class anti-discrimination policy. Holder will be working with John Relman, a leading civil rights attorney and national expert on fair housing and public accommodation issues. While we have a policy that prohibits discrimination, we want this policy to be stronger. And we will require everyone who uses our platform to read and certify that they will follow this policy.
Our team and outside experts have also highlighted the importance of fighting both explicit racism and the implicit biases that can lead to discrimination. Last year, we made unconscious bias training available to hosts who attended the Airbnb Open. We recently asked Dr. Robert W. Livingston of Harvard University to help us improve these trainings and ensure they are available to more members of our community. Dr. Livingston is nationally recognized for his work in developing comprehensive programs to address implicit racism. Additionally, we are adding new employees whose full-time job will be to detect and address instances of discrimination.
This process isn’t close to being over, but we want to be as transparent as possible along the way because I know we’ve failed on that front previously. Over the last month, I have been reflecting on why we have been slow to address these problems. Joe, Nate, and I started Airbnb with the best of intentions, but we weren’t fully conscious of this issue when we designed the platform. After speaking to many of you, I have learned that there have at times been a lack of urgency to work on this, and we need to rectify that immediately.
I promise you that we have learned from the past and won’t repeat our prior mistakes and delays. I sincerely believe that this is the greatest challenge we face as a company. It cuts to the core of who we are and the values that we stand for. We will not simply “address the issue” by doing the least required for liability and PR purposes. I want us to be smart and innovative and to create new tools to prevent discrimination and bias that can be shared across the industry. I hope you’ll help us by sharing your ideas by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org.