On Wednesday, Airbnb took more steps toward diversity, inclusion and equity by announcing Melissa C. Thomas-Hunt as head of global diversity and belonging. Thomas-Hunt will join the home-rental company’s executive team and direct the strategy and execution of diversity, inclusion, and equity programs for its 5,000 employees worldwide.
In an official statement, Airbnb’s 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.
Previously, Thomas-Hunt was vice provost for inclusive excellence at Vanderbilt, where she was responsible for “helping advance equity, diversity and inclusion in Vanderbilt’s academic research and community of almost 22,000 students, staff and faculty.” Before her work at Vanderbilt, she was global chief diversity officer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business
“I felt deeply called by Airbnb’s mission and purpose,” Thomas-Hunt said in the statement. “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.”
Correction: Sept. 17, 2019, 11:13 p.m. ET: This story has been edited to remove unattributed text and to add fuller sourcing.