On Wednesday, Airbnb took more steps towards diversity, inclusion and equity by announcing Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt as Head of Global Diversity and Belonging. Thomas-Hunt will serve on Airbnb’s Executive Team and take the helm for strategy and execution of the internal diversity, inclusion, equity and belonging programs for Airbnb’s 5,000 employees worldwide.
In an official statement, Airbnb Co-Founder, CEO and Head of Community, Brian Chesky said:
“We aspire to be a global leader in diversity and belonging – not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s core to our mission. To have the impact we want on the world, we have to start inside our own walls and make sure every employee at Airbnb feels like they belong. Melissa is a visionary in this space who has spent her career exploring the causes of inequality, finding solutions to promote inclusion, and producing real change. I am incredibly grateful that she has agreed to bring her leadership and expertise to Airbnb.”
With over 20 years in the field, Thomas-Hunt is well versed in diversity efforts and global team building. Hopefully, with her leadership, we’ll see further consideration of how Airbnb changes the landscape of communities of color, as well as more ways to avoid discriminatory cases of #AirbnbWhileBlack.
Thomas-Hunt joins Airbnb from Vanderbilt University, where she served as vice provost for Inclusive Excellence. At Vanderbilt, Thomas-Hunt was responsible for “helping advance equity, diversity and inclusion in Vanderbilt’s academic research and community of almost 22,000 students, staff and faculty.” Prior to this, she served as Global Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, where she was focused on ensuring that the needs of the student community were met.
“I felt deeply called by Airbnb’s mission and purpose,” Thomas-Hunt said via press release. “Increasing belonging is powerful, compelling and complex to operationalize. By continuing to build a diverse and inclusive team around the world, we can help individuals shift and shape their trajectory to realize their full potential, and I am honored to join Airbnb to help achieve these goals.”