Instead of using prospective guests full names in the booking process, Airbnb is opting to use initials to forfend racial discrimination.
Airbnb is making some necessary changes to combat racial bias. In late-December, Airbnb published an official statement that the company will be attempting a test for prospective Oregon guests to only use their initials in the booking process. Once booking is confirmed, the guests full names will appear. Once the change is fully implemented by January 31, 2022, it will be in effect for at least two years.
“Airbnb has no tolerance for discrimination, and we have taken a number of steps to help fight bias. Some of these initiatives include requiring all Hosts and guests to agree to the Airbnb Community Commitment, which requires everyone who uses Airbnb to treat others without discrimination and with respect,” the statement read.
According to NPR, In 2019, Airbnb reached a settlement with three African American women, who alleged that the company site allowed hosts to discriminate against prospective Black guests through use of their names and photographs. The women argued that it was in violation of Oregon’s public accommodation laws.
“This update is consistent with the voluntary settlement agreement we reached in 2019 with individuals in Oregon who raised concerns regarding the way guests’ names are displayed when they seek to book a listing,” the statement added.
Racial discrimination took place long prior to the 2019 lawsuit, where in 2016, a Harvard Business School study found that guests with “distinctly African-American names are roughly 16% less likely to be accepted than identical guests with distinctively White names.”
Months after the study, Airbnb tapped Laura Murphy, the former head of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Washington D.C. Legislative Office to write a comprehensive report that outlined the company’s efforts to fight discrimination and build inclusion. The report was also highlighted in an apology statement given by Airbnb co-founder and CEO Brian Chesky.