Airbnb is partnering with NAACP – the largest social justice organization in the nation – to help take Airbnb services to economically disadvantaged communities.
NAACP was founded in 1909 and claims to be the oldest civil rights organization in the nation. Founded in response to the continued practice of lynching in the early 1900s, the group now seeks civil rights and equality for all citizens in education, political process and law enforcement, and aims to educate and remove discrimination and prejudice in the U.S.
How NAACP will help
According to a recent press release, NAACP will help diversify the reach of Airbnb through targeted outreach into communities of color, with the goal of trying to get more people to visit these communities. NAACP and Airbnb will be working on workplace diversity as well. In return, Airbnb will be donating 20 percent of its earnings through the partnership to Airbnb.
Belinda Johnson, Airbnb’s Chief Business Affairs Officer, calls this move “democratizing capitalism.” She went on to call the home-sharing made possible by Airbnb an “economic lifeline” for families. An Airbnb study from last year indicated that tourism in a predominantly African American suburb of New York City grew by 50 percent overall, while Airbnb showed a 78 percent growth. Other similar studies indicated similar or higher results.
Diversity in Airbnb
Airbnb has good reason to be working at diversity. A Harvard Business School study indicated that Airbnb hosts were less likely to accept clearly African American guests than those who were obvious white (as judged by their names). The study even indicated that hosts often opted to lose money rather than accept a (fictional) African American guest.
In response, Airbnb created a new policy which explicitly barred hosts from declining or imposing different or extra terms on a guest based on race, color, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or marital status. They also may not make any public statement or posting indicating a preference for a guest based on what of those categories.
Other parts of Airbnb efforts at diversity include anti-bias training for employees, an Open Doors policy that allows discrimination complaints to be filed with a specially trained team and special training for hosts, which Airbnb says is rolling out across the nation.