Language, which includes how companies disseminate information, is a vital component for promoting inclusion. Applying the proper wording generates economic benefits for companies that incorporate various diversity dimensions in the business context and increase social benefits in personal settings. Inclusive language includes ethnic backgrounds, skin colour, gender identity, sexual orientation, physical and mental abilities, age, socio-economic differences, religious beliefs, education, or culture.
Zurich-based Witty Works has been addressing this issue since its incorporation in 2018. The startup developed a text-editing tool that enables companies to unlock diversity and become inclusive. The tool checks texts for discrimination in real-time and suggests inclusive language to help clients avoid unconscious stereotypes in their communication. Also, due to the everyday usage of the tool, while writing, employees become aware of their own biases. They adapt their behaviour step by step, supporting companies' efforts to become more inclusive.
The Minimum Sellable Product, 'Diversifier, was launched in 2020 as an independent platform onto which customers copied their job ads text for editing before pasting it into their platforms. Over 30 companies, including Microsoft, Deutsche Bahn, Axpo, die Mobiliar, Sherpany, Accenture and Deloitte, used it, enabling Witty Works to generate more than 280k in revenues since 2020. Despite the positive numbers, customers found switching between platforms was tedious and limited to few applications and features, as Witty Works CEO Nadia Fischer revealed.
Building on the feedback, Witty Works has redesigned and re-launched the platform, advanced the features, and transformed it into a browser plug-in. Under the new brand name 'Witty', the AI-based tool now checks for inclusive language by highlighting old-fashioned or stereotyped terms and proposing inclusive alternatives. "The new tool is intelligent to understand words and context, which the previous version was unable to do", said Fischer. Witty also corrects grammar and spelling mistakes in English and German, with Spanish coming soon. It has a wide range of applications, including job ads, marketing campaigns, and company reports. It will be advanced to support writing platforms such as google docs and Microsoft word. Private individuals and companies can use the plug-in solution.
The launch comes after the company's first financing round of €700k. The funds enabled the startup to advance the platform, and part of the proceeds will flow into scaling it and hiring new employees to join its team of 11.
(Ritah Ayebare Nyakato)