Airbnb Hires Former Attorney General Eric Holder to Combat Racism Among Hosts

Attorney General Eric Holder speaks on criminal justice and sentencing at the National Press Club on Feb. 17, 2015, in Washington, DC. (Photo: Mandel Ngan, AFP/Getty Images)
Attorney General Eric Holder speaks on criminal justice and sentencing at the National Press Club on Feb. 17, 2015, in Washington, DC.
(Photo: Mandel Ngan, AFP/Getty Images)

Stung by complaints of discrimination and racism among some of its hosts, Airbnb has hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to help it craft an anti-discrimination policy.

The home rental company announced last month it would review all aspects of its platform with an eye to fighting bias and discrimination.

Critics have said that by creating a digital space that allowed individuals to choose to whom they rent apartments and houses, Airbnb unwittingly enabled its hosts to act on their biases.

A Harvard Business School study last year found widespread discrimination by Airbnb hosts. Renters who have said they were repeatedly turned down by hosts — a pattern that tended to reverse if they swapped their profile photo for one of a cityscape, for instance — have protested the racial discrimination under the hashtag #AirbnbWhileBlack.

Holder’s hiring is part of Airbnb’s efforts to deal with the problems that have arisen. He said he was looking forward to working with Airbnb to develop and implement what the company calls “a world-class” anti-discrimination policy.

“Airbnb is committed to building a community where everyone can belong, no matter who they are or what they look like. I’m eager to help them craft policies that will be the model for companies who share Airbnb’s commitment to diversity and inclusion,” he said in a statement.

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SOURCE: USA Today – Elizabeth Weise