Textio’s newest augmented writing tool helps guide brands to use inclusive language in more content

Language in a mock company profile is run through Textio for Employer Brand, a new product from the Seattle augmented writing startup. (Textio Image)

Textio, the Seattle-based augmented writing startup, is expanding its product offering beyond helping companies craft better job listings and is releasing “Textio for Employer Brand,” a tool to facilitate more diverse and inclusive language across a variety of writings.

The writing guidance from the 6-year-old startup comes as more companies and brands have been reshaped by the pandemic and are attempting to be more in touch with the mood of the country in the wake of widespread protests over police brutality toward black people.

Textio customers that are rebuilding and rehiring want to do it in a way that pays more attention to all the changes that have happened in the world, according to Jon Gordner, Textio’s director of product.

“People were using Textio not for necessarily a specific job that they were hiring for, but to help them better talk about the values that they want to hire for, how they want to market their company to the world,” Gordner told GeekWire.

The new tool is designed to infuse diversity, equity and inclusion language into a range of corporate messaging, whether it’s an “About this company” page on a website or a blog post talking about workplace culture and values.

Textio points to data from the jobs site Glassdoor that says 73% of job seekers say that they won’t apply for a job unless the company’s values align with their own.

(Textio Image)

“It’s not enough to essentially have a list of words posted on the side of your monitor. You need guidance that’s being updated all the time,” Gordner said. “We want that guidance to go to as much writing as possible in as many different places as possible.”

Textio for Employer Brand, which has been in beta with a limited number of corporate testers, launches on Monday and focuses on three categories of language guidance:

  • Multicultural: Textio highlights phrases that reflect a multicultural approach to promoting diversity such as “We embrace diversity and want you to bring your whole self to work.”
  • Team-centric vs. individual achievement: Phrases that emphasize the importance of teamwork and community are given the OK. Textio believes focusing too much on individuals could perpetuate preexisting stereotypes about the non-collaborative nature of some industries.
  • Growth vs. fixed mindset: Textio nudges you away from fixed mindset phrases and toward language that emphasizes learning and growth. Instead of saying your team is “super smart,” use phrases like “dedicated” and “resourceful.”
(Textio Image)

The tool uses color highlighting and drop-down suggestions to guide the user through making a stronger written piece. During a demo for GeekWire, Gordner showed a few examples, such as when a company refers to its “tribe” of employees.

“If you are of African or indigenous descent that could rub you the wrong way,” Gordner said of the term. “Because [the company] is essentially co-opting these phrases without paying respect to the actual meaning.” He then changed it to read “community.”

Even sports metaphors and corporate jargon can be deemed insensitive because the language excludes people who don’t get the meaning. Check out the differences in these sentences:

Before Textio: We’re not going to hit a home run every time, but if we can really push the envelope, we know that we’re going to succeed in the long run.

After Textio: We’re not going to succeed every time, but if we can innovate, we know that we’re going to succeed in the long run.

“These are the small changes that we’re making that can make a real impact in what you’re communicating in terms of what kinds of things you value and who might see themselves as belonging at your company,” Gordner said.

Textio was founded in 2014 by Kieran Snyder and Jensen Harris, after the two previously worked on productivity tools at Microsoft. The startup has raised $41.5 million to date, including a $12 million round earlier this year.

Textio is currently used by 20% of the Fortune 100 and notable existing customers include Nestle, McDonalds, Twitter and Zillow.

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