Airbnb’s toolkit to explore bias, discrimination and the impact of belonging

Our mission at Airbnb is to create a community where anyone can belong anywhere. Airbnb at its core is an open network that is dedicated to bringing the world closer together by creating meaningful, shared experiences among people from all parts of the world. It is an incredibly diverse community where people from different cultures, values and standards meet. Joining the Airbnb community means embracing other cultures and lifestyles and discrimination of any kind prevents people from making those connections.

That’s why last year, we launched our nondiscrimination policy, a set of rules for our community to follow based on two foundational principles: inclusion and respect. The policy addresses discriminations based on skin color, ethnicity, geographic origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, kind of disability or age. We asked hosts to adopt it. Whoever doesn’t accept it or violates it is removed from our platform. You can read it here.

To help roll this guidance out to our community, we worked with two psychologists, Dr Robert W. Livingston from Harvard University and Dr Peter Glick from Lawrence University to create a toolkit to explore bias, discrimination, and their impact on belonging.  

Thanks to this toolkit you can see what guides our judgment towards people. We encourage all our community to sign up to the toolkit.

It’s a self-teaching tool, easy to follow and to share with other Airbnb users.

Inside the toolkit you’ll find videos, stories and some tips.

What are the tips on how to overcome biases we could have – including the ones we are unaware of?

Use the same standards for everyone

Create a set of objective criteria that you use to evaluate potential guests. It could be the number of reviews they have or how many people are in their party. Then, stick to these criteria for every guest, every time. If your criteria are inconsistent from situation to situation, bias may creep into your decision-making. Also, be sure to set your reservation preferences and keep your availability calendar up to date so you’re more likely to be able to accept the booking requests you receive.

Use mindful decision making

Before accepting or rejecting a guest, determine why you’ve made the decision and challenge yourself to give a rigorous explanation. Ask yourself if you’d be comfortable having to tell the guest face-to-face the reason why they were declined.

Practice empathy

It may sound obvious, but empathy goes a long way. Imagine that you’re in someone else’s shoes and try to understand how they might be feeling. Think about the hurt, inconvenience, and indignity that someone may face when being denied the opportunity to book a place solely because they are different.

Unlearn stereotypes

One of the few proven ways to actually reverse implicit bias is to seek out experiences and information that go against stereotypes. Get out of your comfort zone and meet diverse people—accept Airbnb guests from different walks of life. Positive contact and social interaction can reduce biases.

Speak out

Add a message to your profile stating that you welcome guests from all walks of life. This not only signals to guests that they’re welcome, it can also inspire other hosts to embrace the values of diversity and inclusion too.

Click here to discover more about it.