Audit of Airbnb's CSR

Through an audit of Airbnb's corporate social responsibility, what design opportunities can be identified to further develop Airbnb's social impact?

Outcome Classification: 
Opportunity Identification

Design Framework | Research | Strategy

Project Members: 
Lucas Bruketa, Mikayla Koo, Hanna Steingrimsdottir

Full report found at the end of project summary.


As the sharing economy continues to emerge within the coming decade, companies will continue to be held to a higher standard for the culture and role they play within sustainable practices.

A participant is not just a consumer of goods, but a representative of the company, just as the company becomes representative of the participants. With the aim of bringing a more successful and socially sustainable future to Airbnb, the project attempted to understand the company’s current sustainability context, using this research to identify a new opportunity for the company. 


1. Before any work could be done towards research, we first created a framework of our analysis, defining the realms of social sustainability that we would be examining.

2. Utilizing this framework, we could identify Airbnb’s negative impact within the 5 domains.

3. From the framework and research into Airbnb’s societal role, the significance of completing specific case studies on the company’s impact became clear.

4. The final step was surveying the completed audit of Airbnb's user experience and social responsibilities to define an opportunity.


Focusing on the guest - identified as the most significant and at-risk stakeholder within the transaction - we were able to propose a new system of accountability for both host and company. Through the establishment of robust customer service, environment verification, and company transparency, we are able to define an opportunity for greater corporate accountability and service expansion.


From this work, some key insights can be defined to influence our understanding of the future:

  • An economy of sharing is an economy of trust. When choosing to participate in the sharing economy, users are willingly making themselves vulnerable to others and trust must be fostered at all levels.
  • The user and company are inseparable. The user is no longer a billboard for the company but an ambassador. A double edged sword, users will no longer choose to be representative of a company that they perceive to not align with their values.
  • Denying responsibility is no longer an option. As users become more informed and empowered, companies can no longer deny negative impacts that they may have outside of their central scope. 
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