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If you prioritize communicating in an inclusive fashion, new tools can help you refine your written interactions with colleagues, partners, and people who you’re looking to recruit.
We tested six tools across three different categories. Textio and TalVista are HR-focused platforms that help users workshop their hiring materials. UInclude and Inclusive Language Checker, a tool developed by the social-impact agency Whole Whale, are websites that allow users to enter text for analysis. (UInclude was built to optimize job descriptions, but notes on its website that it can work for “any material that will be viewed and consumed by others.”) Witty, a browser extension, and AllyBot, a Slack extension, are more active, suggesting changes as users type in real time. Based on our testing, we recommend TalVista for institutional needs and Inclusive Language Checker for individual use.
Our pick for talent teams looking to create a more inclusive hiring process.
- A streamlined and clear interface, with problematic words highlighted in red and inclusive ones in green.
- Provides a sense of progress toward an endpoint, updating a “job score” in real time as changes are made to reach a neutral score of zero.
- Relies on academic research to flag terms that would deter certain groups and suggest more inclusive alternatives.
- Does not offer deep explanations for why certain phrases are not considered inclusive. (The company says that is by design to avoid creating space for people to lean into their biases.)
Inclusive Language Checker
Our pick for individuals who want to make their writing more inclusive across varied use cases.
- Ability to check a variety of formats: copying text directly to the website, entering a URL, or uploading a PDF.
- Provides sourcing for the basis for each recommended wording change, and links to resources that provide additional context.
- Requires users to enter their email for each use, which can be cumbersome for those looking to edit multiple pieces of text or check progress through multiple revisions.
- Formatting is off for pasted text that includes hyperlinks, which can make for a jarring reading experience
We evaluated all tools on ease of use, quality of recommendations, and price point. Textio and TalVista provided us with demonstrations of their technology. For UInclude and Inclusivity Tracker, we copied in two pieces of text: an internal document containing Charter’s parental leave policy and a company-wide Slack message commemorating Juneteenth. We installed Witty and AllyBot’s free trial, and ran them over the course of several days to test how these tools would react to writing in real time.
Ease of use: While other tools we tested had busy interfaces with a rainbow of color-coding, TalVista’s interface is pleasantly calm in design, with just one simple system: red for concerning words and phrases (the darker the shade, the more problematic the wording) and green for positive ones. Each red highlight comes with multiple suggestions for replacement terms, and the overall score of the text, which incentivizes users to get to a score of zero for totally neutral language, updates as edits are made to show progress toward the goal.
Inclusive Language Checker does have some features that add friction to the experience, including an inability to process hyperlinks in pasted text and a requirement that users enter their email before each use. But overall, these issues were outweighed by its intuitive and straightforward interface, and the multiple options it offers users for ways to share text: as a URL, an uploaded PDF, or copying and pasting into a text box. The program flags potential issues at the top of the screen, providing an all-in-one-place list of spots to fix as well as highlighting in-line.
Quality of recommendations: Language is both precise and nuanced, and digital tools can sometimes miss the mark in discerning what is needed and when. For this reason, the two real-time tools we tested at times felt overly attentive (such as when AllyBot gently warned about using the pronoun “she” in a message about a colleague who does identify as a woman, or when Witty suggested replacing “work-life balance” with “work-life harmony” on the grounds that the former “doesn’t resonate with team-minded people”).
Inclusive Language Checker was built from the open-source inclusive-language database Alex (which also powers other free inclusive-language tools such as Casey) and then enhanced by Whole Whale with additional terms and context, for an ability to catch more than 800 potentially offensive words and phrases. Each of the site’s recommendations is robustly supported, with an explanation for why something was flagged, a classification such as “gendered” or “outdated” that explains why a term may be problematic, the source of its explanation, and a link out to another source such as a news article that provides additional context. While a small number of edits it made in our test were overzealous—it mistook “add” for the acronym for Attention Deficit Disorder, and suggested capitalizing the already-capitalized “Black”—overall the recommendations were useful and at times even thought-provoking, such as the suggestion to avoid “just” as part of “a generalization that may exclude a group.”
Because TalVista’s recommendations are rooted in academic research about job-description wording, the platform offers suggestions that a careful human eye may not spot on its own. In our demo, for example, the software flagged "strong" and replaced it with "deep/meaningful", "fast-paced" with "exciting", and "competitive" with "enthusiastic.” Its suggested corrections are less transparent, but more prescriptive and to the point: Hovering over a red-highlighted term yields a short list of alternate words, sans explanation, a feature the company argues prevents users from leaning into their biases.
Pricing deep dive
TalVista charges $5,000 for a one-year license with unlimited users. The price is adjusted based on how many unique job descriptions a team anticipates optimizing.
Textio packages start at $20,000 per year and are based on the size of the organization.
Whole Whale’s Inclusive Language Checker is free.
UInclude offers three tiers, all of which include recruiting performance predictions for job ads in addition to language help:
- The Basic plan, which allows for up to three users and 10 uses per month, is $135 per team per month if billed monthly, or $108 per month if billed annually.
- The Standard plan allows for up to 25 uses per month, while the Pro plan allows for up to 50. For both, inquire for pricing and user limits.
Witty offers three tiers, all available in both English and German:
- The Free plan for individual users includes language help, a limited ability to create custom language rules and a brand voice dictionary, and analytics on common pitfalls.
- The Teams plan, which includes all the features of the free plan with limits removed, a higher level of support, and “Witty Academy” unconscious bias training, is $14.90 per user per month, billed annually.
- The Enterprise plan includes additional privacy and security features, additional support, the ability to create department-level dictionaries, and an optional add-on tool for HR focused on talent acquisition. Inquire for pricing.
AllyBot offers three tiers, all of which support unlimited messages and channels within a given Slack workspace:
- The Starter plan is $29 per Slack domain per month if billed monthly, or $24 per month if billed annually.
- The Pro plan, which includes the ability to customize a dictionary, monthly usage reports, and unlimited admin seats, is $79 per Slack domain per month if billed monthly, or $66 per month if billed annually.The Enterprise plan, which comes with security and compliance reporting and enhanced management and support features, is $199 per Slack domain per month if billed monthly, or $166 per month if billed annually.
How we chose what to review
Many, but not all, of the inclusive-language tools available are focused on eliminating bias from hiring and review processes. To reflect the variety of ways workers may interact with inclusive-language tools, we focused on assembling a test group that covered a breadth of different use cases. Relying on online research and recommendations from inclusion-focused websites, we selected for evaluation two platforms built to optimize recruiting materials, two websites, and two tools created to integrate into the normal flow of work.
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