Yelp recently announced a new feature that will flag businesses that display racist behavior, giving customers a warning before they dine at the establishment. If utilized effectively, this new Yelp feature could be a great way to continue making good changes towards a more inclusive environment for minorities and the marginalized.
“At Yelp, we value diversity, inclusion and belonging, both internally and on our platform, which means we have a zero tolerance policy to racism” said Noorie Malik, VP of User Operations in a statement. “We know these values are important to our users and now more than ever, consumers are increasingly conscious of the types of businesses they patronize and support. In fact, we’ve seen that reviews mentioning Black-owned businesses were up more than 617% this summer compared to last summer. Support for women-owned businesses has also increased, with review mentions up 114% for the same time period,” Malik said.
Yelp will also be partnering with Open To All, a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing inclusivity in local businesses. Yelp and Open To All can bring local business a toolkit designed for encouraging more inclusivity. Check out more about what the toolkit includes here. Yelp actually began this initiative two years ago, where business owners could pledge to be open to all and add the open to all badge on their Yelp page.
This new consumer alert feature definitely seems well intentioned, and built to help users feel safe when they’re dining out or checking out a new business. However, if the feature isn’t as carefully monitored as Malik’s statement says, innocent business owners may suffer the consequences. Yelp noted in its statement that this feature is a result of their other work with Black-owned organizations in order to bolster Black businesses, a move that was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Over the summer, Yelp rolled out a number of initiatives to help users find and support Black-owned businesses,” Malik said. “We partnered with My Black Receipt on the launch of a Black-owned business attribute and joined the 15 Percent Pledge to further amplify Black-owned businesses. While searches for Black-owned businesses surged on Yelp, so did the volume of reviews warning users of racist behavior at businesses. Today, in response to this, we will now place a distinct Consumer Alert on business pages to caution people about businesses that may be associated with overtly racist actions,” read the statement.
The feature will place a disclaimer on the business’ Yelp page that reads “Business accused of racist behavior” alongside a link to any relevant news articles about the reported incident. The feature aims to help customers make more informed decisions about the businesses they support, and to teach businesses how they can further improve in the future.