AirBnB and the NAACP have teamed up to fight racism on the hospitality platform. Guests have repeatedly reported that hosts using the app have discriminated against people of color. Airbnb has been fighting for years with racism on its platform in the US and overseas.
The partnership seeks to involve more African-Americans in the sharing economy as an income stream and improve the diversity of hosts to curb discrimination.
Numerous cases have been reported of racist hosts denying rental applications from people of color claiming the accommodations are booked on the selected dates. Evidence indicates that these same hosts then rented the property to white users or leave the room vacant. Some hosts have turned away people of color at the door once they discover who they are.
Many of these incidents have been documented on social media, Quirtina Crittenden, an AirBnB user, coined the hashtag #airbnbwhileblack last year and it quickly went viral. Her action resulted in hundreds of personal stories of discrimination creating a public relations nightmare for Airbnb.
Racism on its platform is not only a public relations nightmare but an unacceptable business risk for AirBnB. In 2016 AirBnB narrowly escaped a potentially devastating racial discrimination case brought by Greg Selden. Selden, an African-American, fooled a racist host into accepting his application from a fake account using a picture of a white person after his original application was denied. He sued Airbnb claiming it violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Airbnb successfully moved the case to individual arbitration avoiding a class action suit.
This new partnership with the NAACP indicates that Airbnb is taking the fight against racism seriously. AirBnB chief business affairs officer Belinda Johnson said, “Our fastest-growing communities across major US cities are in communities of color and we’ve seen how home sharing is an economic lifeline for families. This partnership will build on this incredible progress. The NAACP is unrivaled in its tireless work to expand economic opportunities for minority communities and we look forward to collaborating with their talented team.”
The NAACP seeks to help Airbnb target communities that could benefit greatly for home-sharing services and the additional income they provide. Airbnb announced it will also donate 20 percent of its earnings from rentals in these communities to the NAACP. In return the NAACP will help AirBnB to improve its workplace diversity efforts.
Derrick Johnson, interim president and CEO of the NAACP, said in a statement. “For too long, black people and other communities of color have faced barriers to access new technology and innovations. This groundbreaking partnership with Airbnb will help bring new jobs and economic opportunities to our communities.”