By Ryan Velez
Ken Chenault was one of a few Black CEOs of a major company during his time at the top of American Express. When he stepped down, many people following Black business were curious to see what his next move would be. Black Enterprise reports a major step, as Chenault is now a part of Airbnb’s board of directors.
As stated in a recent write up by Airbnb Co-Founder, CEO, and Head of Community Brian Chesky, “Ken has built one of the most successful trust-based companies in the world. It is a company that has endured and innovated for nearly 168 years. Ken and I spent time talking about the 21st-century model and in particular the role of trust as the infrastructure for such a model. Ken also believes deeply that, now more than ever, companies need to stand for values, character, and competence. As he says, “I think corporations exist because society allows us to exist. Corporations are not entitled to exist. So I think we have a responsibility and an obligation to help improve society.”
The company has had a history of allegations leveled against them, and this is one of a series of moves tried to help stem the tide. Prior to this, they announced Danny Glover as a Brand Ambassador stating that “Airbnb is excited to welcome Danny Glover to our community as an adviser for our efforts to engage communities of color and ensure they are able to take advantage of the economic opportunity of hosting on our platform. Many people know Mr. Glover from his memorable performances in world-renowned films and television programs, but progressives throughout America and the world know Mr. Glover as a steadfast advocate for social justice,” stated Janaye Ingram, director of partnerships for Airbnb.
Chenault is certainly in high demand. He recently agreed to join the Facebook board of directors as well. Here’s Mark Zuckerberg’s initial statement on bringing Chenault on:
“I’m excited to announce that Kenneth Chenault, the outgoing CEO of American Express, has agreed to join Facebook’s Board of Directors.
I’ve been trying to recruit Ken for years. He has unique expertise in areas I believe Facebook needs to learn and improve—customer service, direct commerce, and building a trusted brand. Ken also has a strong sense of social mission and the perspective that comes from running an important public company for decades.
Adding someone to our board is one of the most important decisions our board makes. It’s a long process that I take very seriously since this is the group that ultimately governs Facebook. Ken and I have had dinners discussing our mission and strategy for years, and he has already helped me think through some of the bigger issues I’m hoping we take on this year.
Welcome Ken, and I’m looking forward to working with you on our board.”