Airbnb is finding out that fixing discrimination is a really long and difficult road.
The home-sharing company has come under fire in the last few weeks over the racism and discrimination against some
of its customers while they used the service. Even a hashtag—#AirbnbWhileBlack—emerged on social media amid the flood of conversations about the topic.
Of course, Airbnb quickly denounced racism in public statements and apologies. During its annual engineering conference
in San Francisco, co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky declared that the company had started a 90-day review of its entire service and that, “We have zero tolerance for any discrimination.” But
Kimberly Bryant, founder of Black Girls Code, an non-profit that organizes a variety of programs to teach coding to girls
of color, thinks there’s more it can do. “I wonder, do you not recognize that some of the issues in the design of the
product, as is, is being driven by the fact that it’s not inclusive design,” she told the executives during a question and answer period after the panel. “Perhaps [it’s] because there’s only 2% black people that work at Airbnb, there’s only 3% of Hispanics
that are part of the Airbnb community and if we go down further into the tech ranks it’s like 1%.
So while I appreciate the redesign efforts, I really would challenge you to look at what are the employee makeups at your
companies and how can you do more to hire engineers, to hire designers that would be able to look at your product from this lens.”…