USA: Airbnb launches policy to address discrimination by hosts

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Article
8 September 2016

Report: Airbnb's Work to Fight Discrimination and Build Inclusion

Author: Laura W. Murphy, President of Airbnb

...A team representing executives from every Airbnb department conducted a comprehensive examination of how Airbnb has fought discrimination in the past, where these efforts fell short, and how they can be improved in the future. Based on that review, Airbnb has committed to make a series of product and policy changes that will help fight discrimination and bias. These changes include: [T]he Airbnb Community Commitment...[a] new nondiscrimination policy...[a] Permanent, Full-Time Product Team to Fight Bias and Promote Diversity...encouraging the Growth of Instant Book Listings...going Beyond Photos...enforcing the Rules...Supporting Our Community...open Doors...welcome to Our Home: Addressing Unconscious Bias and Bringing People Together...[and] a Diverse Workforce, A Diverse Community. These changes are only Airbnb’s frst steps. Fighting discrimination will require constant and ongoing work. The internal working group that produced this report will continue working to both implement these initiatives and evaluate additional steps Airbnb can take to ensure the Airbnb community is truly fair for all... 

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Article
7 September 2016

Airbnb gets serious about fighting discrimination

Author: Davey Alba, Wired (USA)

After facing months of criticism that its...service has a discrimination problem, Airbnb says it’s making some changes...[T]he company released a 32-page report on the matter and made changes to its policy in an effort to limit hosts from rejecting would-be renters based on their race, religion, nationality, disability, gender, or age. According to a company blog post, some changes will take effect as soon as next month. Starting in October, Airbnb says, if guests feel they’ve been discriminated against in violation of company policy, they can turn to Airbnb for booking assistance. And this applies to current and future bookings, as well past instances of discrimination. The company also says it is actively asking its hosts to sign a more detailed nondiscrimination policy; will increase the number of available listings to be booked immediately, without prior approval of specific guests, to 1 million by January 2017; and will continue to consult with anti-bias advisers...Airbnb has long tried to portray itself as an ally of the middle class, helping families...[b]ut some users clearly haven’t felt welcome on Airbnb. In June, an Airbnb host in North Carolina reportedly canceled a guest’s booking because she was black, then harassed her with racist and sexist messages. CEO Brian Chesky eventually had to step in, announcing that Airbnb would permanently ban the host. In May, a guest filed a class-action discrimination suit against the company, claiming bias on the platform prevented him from finding a place to stay on Airbnb...

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