Airbnb says in a new report that perceived Black customers are less likely to get their reservations confirmed compared to perceived white customers. The vacation rental company found that guests perceived to be Black were able to successfully book their stay 91.4 percent of the time, compared to 94.1 percent of guests perceived to be white. Other racial groups clocked in between the two figures.
“Airbnb is built on trust, and we will continue to innovate and design new products and initiatives that increase acceptance and combat bias,” Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky said in a statement. “Important insights, including data generated through Project Lighthouse, will drive our work to make Airbnb a place where everyone feels welcome.” Airbnb said it prevented hosts beginning four years ago from seeing a guest’s profile picture until after they accept their reservation, which the company said closed about one-fifth of the disparity.
The company announced a series of changes in conjunction with the data’s release, including launching a written guide about inclusiveness for hosts, expanding analysis of when hosts reject reservations and making it easier for guests to receive reviews. “Airbnb led the way for the tech industry in undertaking its civil rights audit in 2016,” former Attorney General Eric Holder, whom Airbnb tapped to advise on developing its anti-discrimination policy, said in a statement. “In the years since, I have continued to be impressed by the company’s sustained work and holistic approach to acknowledging and addressing discrimination.”
The company partnered with a variety of civil rights groups in its effort, including the League of United Latin American Citizens and the NAACP. “The NAACP has been calling on companies to do what is best for racial equity, and Airbnb has stepped up to provide answers,” said NAACP President Derrick Johnson. “Airbnb has committed to walk with us and others to unpack their journey to achieving diversity, equity and inclusion as an organization. Over the last six years, the company has set and maintained the blueprint for how companies should tackle this critical work: in a transparent, public-facing and introspective way.”