Airbnb announced the news on Thursday.
Ahrendts will be the second woman to join Airbnb’s board after Ann Mather, who has worked at Pixar and Disney, was added in late August, 2018.
The addition of Mather and Ahrendts comes after Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky said last year that he planned to appoint at least one woman to the company’s board. “I’d like to add two this year,” he said at the time.
The need to expand the number of women in leadership roles at companies is widely acknowledged — not just for equality’s sake, but because businesses that include women on their leadership teams experience better financial results. Less than 9% of board seats at “unicorn” companies — private companies valued at $1 billion or more — were held by women in 2017, according to theBoardlist. Airbnb was valued at $31 billion in 2017.
Mather, Ahrendts and former American Express exec Kenneth Chenault make up the short-term rental company’s three non-affiliated independent board directors.
Ahrendts, who left her role at Apple in April after five years, was once the top paid executive at the company, making more money than its CEO, Tim Cook. She ran the company’s retail and online store division, and departed as the company was struggling in China and facing lagging iPhone sales. In a press release announcing her departure, Apple said that she was leaving “for new personal and professional pursuits.”
Prior to that, she was the highest paid CEO in the United Kingdom while at Burberry.
In a statement, Chesky said: “Angela has a reputation for pushing brands to dream big, and she told me that’s exactly what she hopes to bring to Airbnb’s Board.”
Airbnb has said it is on a mission to build a platform that helps people with all aspects of travel, including where to stay, what to do and how to get there. In March, Airbnb struck a deal to acquire HotelTonight, a last-minute hotel booking startup, to bolster its boutique hotel business.