The new ‘Sharing Economy’ has had some trouble dealing with discrimination, with people of color feeling especially excluded from the more convenient services brought to fruition through the power of technology. This has been felt intensely with Airbnb, an online marketplace providing short-term rental lodging. The problem grew to such prominence that it spawned a hashtag – #AirbnbWhileBlack – where African-Americans shared their stories of difficulties ‘booking an Airbnb’ due to the color of their skin. And two startups were born to specifically cater to those discriminated against by Airbnb hosts.
Startups Rise from #AirbnbWhileBlack
Airbnb, based in San Francisco, CA similarly sprang to action due to the reports of discrimination and racism, hiring former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to help craft an anti-discrimination policy that would reduce the bias especially inherent in lodging services. That policy has now been released in a 32 page report that strengthens Airbnb’s regulations above federal nondiscrimination laws. Among many changes, those who were discriminated against in the previous system will find the obvious barriers being tackled, namely user photos – which will be reduced – and instant bookings – which will be increased.
In a letter to Airbnb users, CEO Brian Chesky laid out, “At the heart of our mission is the idea that people are fundamentally good and every community is a place where you can belong… Discrimination is the opposite of belonging, and its existence on our platform jeopardizes this core mission. Bias and discrimination have no place on Airbnb, and we have zero tolerance for them.”
Read the full report on the new policy HERE.