After facing allegations of discriminating against African-American guests, Airbnb has been working to recover its image. At this year’s Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, the travel company teamed up with BET to host a media event and panel on civil rights.
At the event on Tuesday morning, Airbnb planned to address the criticism that it’s received over housing discrimination and present data about “the 2016 Presidential race and the sharing economy.” Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, who also played Lyndon B. Johnson for HBO, made an appearance alongside Uber strategy adviser David Plouffe, Airbnb policy head Chris Lehane and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party’s Reverend Ed King.
According to BuzzFeed News, the event was in planning for seven months and the idea had been discussed since 2012. Airbnb also hired US Attorney General Eric Holder last week to help it address discrimination by conducting an internal investigation. In addition, Airbnb has created blog posts and social media posts in support of #BlackLivesMatter and about not tolerating racism.
“Airbnb is doing what companies do. They’re in Philadelphia to try to lobby a bit, to protect their interests, and shore up their image,” Trent Brown, an associate professor of American studies, told BuzzFeed News. “Whether they’re trying to polish their image or do the right thing, I don’t know, but for a company those interests are always both in play.”
However, the company has not made any changes in the way renters select guests or in increasing awareness of this policy when renters sign up for the service. According to Recode, racial discrimination went mostly undiscussed at the panel.
Instead, the panel discussed a survey conducted by Airbnb researcher David Binder that found that most Americans supported Airbnb and the sharing company.
“What are we gonna do about wage stagnation? [The sharing economy] is probably the most available way for people to deal with that,” said Plouffe during the panel.