After several reported incidents of blatant racial discrimination, room-sharing website Airbnb is now requiring that all users agree to an anti-discrimination policy starting Nov. 1.
According to Refinery 29, the San Francisco-based company sent an e-mail to its users Saturday requesting that they agree to the new Airbnb “community commitment” pledge.
“You commit to treat everyone — regardless of race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation or age — with respect, and without judgment or bias,” the non-discrimination agreement reads.
Users who refuse to comply with the new policy won’t be able to host or book lodging offered on the room-sharing site. The users’ accounts may also be canceled.
“Once an account is canceled, future booked trips will be canceled; however, you’ll still be able to browse Airbnb,” the website states. “If in the future you accept the commitment to inclusion, you’re welcome to come back.”
The company steam-rolled new anti-discrimination efforts following months of controversy surrounding allegations of racial discrimination. The website has already begun unveiling new technological features such as smaller profile photos, an expansion of instant bookings and reporting features that will allow users to document suspected race discrimination, website Triple Pundit reports.
Airbnb even brought on board former Attorney General Eric Holder to help create its newly implemented non-discrimination policy. Holder agreed to lend his hand to the Airbnb team back in July with hopes of formulating a “world-class anti-discriminatory policy for the website” that would help mitigate future instances of outward racism toward Black users.
But the company’s new non-discrimination efforts haven’t stopped a few Black creatives from launching their own lodging sites aimed at helping Black and ethnic minority travelers avoid racism altogether. Apps like Noirbnb and Innclusive (formerly Noirebnb) were created in spite of the many instances of discrimination experienced by Black travelers while trying to book rooms on Airbnb.
“There [was] a need to create something of a safe space,” Rohan Gilkes, founder and CEO of Innclusive, told Atlanta Black Star, “where people feel like they can travel and spend their money and be treated well and feel dignity and be respectful. We can build something where we can feel empowered and feel good and not have that burden on us and that can also be inclusive and safe for people of all backgrounds.”
‘”I want[ed] to build a platform where people can come and feel comfortable,” Gilkes added.
In addition to the new “community commitment” policy, Airbnb will now also offer anti-bias training for site users, ABS reports. The company has public diversity goals as well and said it hopes to partner with historically black colleges and universities for new hires.
“While we have a policy that prohibits discrimination, we want this [new] policy to be stronger,” wrote Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky. “And we will require everyone who uses our platform to read and certify that they will follow this policy.”
A few Airbnb users sounded off on the company’s new rules — some expressing disdain and others applauding the room-sharing site for taking a step in the right direction.
“… I find it a disgrace that you are forcing me to accept this clause or else,” one user posted on the website’s community forum. “What is that? I have my own values, and discrimination is not a part of that. I don’t need you to tell me how I am supposed to conduct me in real life. And then threaten me to close my account in the process if I don’t abide by your rules. How is that not discriminating?”
“Are we allowed to discriminate against smokers?,” wrote another. “How about pet-owners? There are so many rules and regulations these days, everybody is being discriminated against… one way or another! We must fight back, and keep our rights.”
Other users had (somewhat) nicer words.
“Airbnb is a company, and if you don’t like it, start your own company that discriminates against blacks, Hispanics or whomever else you ‘choose’ to do it towards,” one user said. “I’d love to see how far you get with that as the backbone of your company.”