Airbnb CEO Says He Has ‘Zero Tolerance’ for Racist Hosts

By Sameer Rao Jun 08, 2016

Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky started the company’s OpenAir conference today (June 8) by addressing the elephant in the room—talk of racism in the home-sharing company’s platform.

"First, let me make it clear that we have zero tolerance for any amount of racism or discrimination on our platform," Chesky said during the San Francisco conference’s opening keynote. As USA Today reports, he pledged changes to protect users from racial discrimination:

"In the next months, we will be revisiting the design of our site from end to end to see how we can create a more inclusive platform. We’re open to ideas. It’s a really, really hard problem and we need help solving it. We want to move this forward. I myself have engaged with people [who have] been victims of discrimination on the platform. We take this seriously."

Chesky tweeted last week that the company removed a North Carolina host from the platform after he discriminated against a Black prospective guest. Chesky’s and Airbnb’s action came after the user’s colleague tweeted a screenshot of a chat in which the host directed racist epithets at the would-be guest. 

According to Engadget, David King—Airbnb’s director of diversity—announced a "top-down review of the entire community" to address discrimination, with results of that review to be released in September. He will also lead a discussion with Slack’s Leslie Miley and Project Include’s Ellen Pao on diversity and inclusion in Silicon Valley. 

Critics say Airbnb currently does little to protect guests from racism. The popular hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack incorporated stories of Black guests getting more responses from hosts after creating fake White profiles.