In a world where many companies are rolling back their diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives following the racial reckoning after the George Floyd protests, Airbnb maintains that they are committed to fighting discrimination on their platform.
Janaye Ingram, as Director of Community Partner Programs & Engagement, is one of the leaders in these anti-discriminatory efforts for Airbnb.
In her role, Ingram leads partnerships with civil rights organizations, including Color Of Change and the NAACP. Additionally, Ingram also heads up Airbnb’s $100M Community Fund, which awards grants—based on recommendations by Airbnb’s Host community—to organizations that support communities around the world.
Prior to joining the company, Ingram served as National Executive Director of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network and was a co-founder of the Women’s March. Former First Lady Michelle Obama has called Ingram “an impressive leader who plays an important role in our progress toward the mountaintop.”
How did Ingram go from community organizing to working for a tech company? As she shared with ESSENCE, she “was in a moment of transition” when her mentor Laura Murphy started working for the company.
“I was drawn to the fact that this was a company that was committed to addressing discrimination and working on creating a pathway to address equity,” she stated.
They were “the only company that I personally knew about that was doing a civil rights audit and they had created this permanent, dedicated anti-discrimination product team. These were things that I had not heard about other companies doing and it was a big part of the reason that I was drawn to this company,” Ingram noted.
Ingram said that it felt “like a continuation of my advocacy and activism,” as opposed to a 180-degree pivot from her previous roles, calling it an extension of the same type of work, just in a different forum.
“Airbnb wants to create an equitable platform for the more than 4 million hosts and more than 1.4 million guests who are arriving at all times, in order to create a community that is driven and supported by civil rights advocacy,” she noted.
Ingram who has now been with the company for the past six years, which is a bit of an anomaly in today’s world– “that speaks volumes about [Airbnb’s] DEI efforts,” she stated.
In fact, Airbnb has a community commitment which “states that everyone who uses Airbnb must not discriminate on a whole host of protected categories, and treat everyone with respect and without judgment or bias,” says Ingram, mentioning how “that’s a foundational piece of our work.”
Ingram added that Airbnb has “also strengthened and enforced our nondiscrimination policy. We’ve created a rebooking assistance line. Recently we’ve made it easier for guests to report if they believe that they’ve been discriminated against and we’ll investigate and at the same time we offer them the opportunity to be rebooked.”
“Fighting discrimination is something that we want to do in collaboration with our community and our users,” Ingram asserted. “We want to work in collaboration with people who are using the platform.”
“We can’t do this work alone,” she shared. “So, in addition to our civil rights partners, we see our users as important stakeholders in helping us to fight discrimination on our platform and this is work that is ongoing. We’ve developed a number of solutions and we’ll continue to work on this for as long as it takes.”