Renowned Hollywood actor and political activist Danny Glover just joined Airbnb as an adviser to engage communities of color in helping the website turn around its image of discrimination against non-white guests.
“I know Airbnb has had its own share of challenges in this arena,” he wrote in a blog post. “But working with them, I’ve seen first-hand how committed they are to getting it right.”
Glover went on to write, “We will host information sessions and run online and offline campaigns aimed at engaging the people who can benefit from home sharing the most. As an advisor, I will be on the ground doing whatever I can to promote these efforts—participating in trainings and events, working with local organizations and faith-based leaders, and getting to know more of the hosts who empower our communities.”
“Airbnb also allows communities traditionally underserved by the tourism industry to reap the financial rewards of travel, with the share of Airbnb bookings in communities of color in some major cities exceeding the share of local hotel rooms that can be found in them,” he wrote.
The San Francisco-based company commissioned a report last year saying it will revamp its anti-discrimination policy. This came after an Airbnb host was penalized for racial discrimination under an agreement between the rental website and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The host, who was later banned by Airbnb, canceled a woman’s reservation and left a racist remark. The host was later ordered to pay $5,000 in damages.
Glover said he would make sure people of color are taking advantage of “the economic opportunity” of hosting on Airbnb.
Glover views Airbnb as a vital source of income and even an economic lifeline for hosts of color. He cited estimates that bookings helped many U.S. Airbnb hosts afford to stay in their homes and, for 12% of North American hosts, avoid eviction or foreclosure.
Glover’s hire is the latest effort by Airbnb to root out racism through its service. Towards this goal, the company also instituted a mandatory no discrimination policy which must be signed by all guests and hosts.