Airbnb Hires New Head of Global Diversity and Belonging - Black Enterprise
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

In an effort to move forward with efficiency and to further enact its most recent manifesto, Airbnb has hired Melissa Thomas-Hunt whose background is rooted in building inclusive, global teams. She comes from Vanderbilt University, where she served as vice provost for Inclusive Excellence.

In her previous role, 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 her work at Vanderbilt, Thomas-Hunt served as global chief diversity officer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business where she was focused on ensuring that the student community was seen, heard, valued, and supported.

In her role at Airbnb, Thomas-Hunt will lead the strategy and execution of global internal diversity, inclusion, equity, and belonging programs for Airbnb’s 5,000 employees around the world.

“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,” said Brian Chesky, co-founder, CEO, and Head of Community in a statement. “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.”

At Vanderbilt, Thomas-Hunt’s research and teaching focused on organizational behavior and the factors that unleash, leverage and amplify the talents and contributions made by women and underrepresented individuals. Prior to that, she worked at IBM as a marketing representative and received her master’s and doctoral degrees from Northwestern University’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management and her undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from Princeton University.

“I felt deeply called by Airbnb’s mission and purpose. Increasing belonging is powerful, compelling and complex to operationalize,” said Thomas-Hunt in a statement. “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.” 

In recent years, Airbnb has launched a series of initiatives like the Airbnb Community Commitment and Open Doors policies that help fight discrimination and promote belonging. Thomas-Hunt will advise Airbnb on these and other initiatives that are designed to work to fight bias and ensure the platform is open and fair for all hosts and guests.

Sequoia Blodgett

Sequoia Blodgett is a Reporter for Black Enterprise. She is also the founder of Commas, a virtual entrepreneurship resource center that provides everything you need to know about product development, marketing, publicity, and fundraising, to make your entrepreneurial journey a lot less stressful.



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