Airbnb has hired former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to develop an anti-discrimination policy while forming an
advisory board of four former mayors to improve relationships with the cities where its hosts rent out homes.
Airbnb is bringing in Holder amid allegations that some hosts discriminate against minorities. Plus, the accommodations-listing service is looking for mayoral assistance as it faces municipal legal
battles, including one with its home city of San Francisco.
Mayoral Advisory Board includes former Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter, former Rome mayor Francesco Rutelli,
ex-Houston mayor Annise Parker and Stephen Yarwood, former lord mayor of
The company said the board was
“the latest step in our ongoing commitment to work cooperatively with cities
across the globe.” The board, which will meet quarterly with Airbnb staff, will
address issues such as improving transparency, paying its share of lodging and
tourism taxes and working with municipalities on how to prevent hosts from
exacerbating housing shortages.
Last week, the company tapped
Holder to “help craft a world-class anti-discrimination policy,” Airbnb CEO
Brian Chesky said. The hiring of Holder, who served as
U.S. Attorney General under President Obama from 2009 to 2015, is part of an
effort Airbnb announced last month to address allegations that some of
its hosts racially discriminated when renting out their
“We have an obligation to be
honest about our own shortcomings, and do more to get our house in order.
That’s why we’ve been talking more openly about discrimination and bias on our
platform, and are currently engaged in a process to prevent it,” Chesky said. “While we have a policy that prohibits discrimination, we want this
policy to be stronger. And we will require everyone who uses our platform to
read and certify that they will follow this policy.”
As for the mayoral advisory board,
its formation might have been spurred by Airbnb’s legal battle over
how its hosts can rent out their homes or rooms without violating cities’
laws for short-term rentals. Last month, Airbnb filed its first lawsuit
against a city, San Francisco.
San Francisco last month passed an ordinance that, among other things, required all
hosts who hadn’t registered with the city to immediately remove their listings
and fined Airbnb and its hosts as much as $1,000 a day for listings by unregistered
Airbnb, whose hosts operate in
more than 34,000 cities worldwide, alleged that the city’s host-registration
process was “broken” and “confusing,” and called the ordinance