Airbnb, the online marketplace focused on short-term rentals, said it has found a “meaningful difference” in the booking success rate between its white and Black users.
According to CNN, the findings were released after the company launched Project Lighthouse, an initiative to find and remedy race-based discrimination on its platform. The short-term rental company said all users had their reservations confirmed by hosts more than 90% of the time last year.
However, Airbnb also found a notable gap in user experiences during that time depending on their racial identity. Users who were perceived to be white had a booking success rate of 94.1% while users who were perceived as Black had a success rate of 91.4%.
“It is a meaningful difference, and it’s unacceptable,” Janaye Ingram, Airbnb’s director of community partner programs and engagement, told CNN. “It is something that we obviously are not OK with and we are doing a lot to address.”
Project Lighthouse was launched in 2020 in partnership with Color of Change and with the support of the NAACP and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ) after a 2015 Harvard study showed Airbnb hosts were less likely to rent to guests with names that sounded African American.
The next year, Airbnb was sued for racial discrimination. In 2019 the company settled a racial discrimination lawsuit brought by three Black women in Oregon.
The company said Tuesday it will use the information from Project Lighthouse as a supplement to the company’s approach to bookings and reviews. The short-term rental chain has made several changes in recent years to fight discrimination including not showing profile pictures before booking, auditing rejections, and making it easier for guests to receive reviews. Earlier this year, Airbnb also announced users in Oregon will only be able to see initials under a profile’s name to curb racism.
Airbnb has donated to a bevy of Black causes, including bringing agri-tourism to Georgia to help Black farmers.