April 14, 2020

Now on Video from In/Visible Talks 2020: LaDonna Willems on “Permission to Speak”

Dropbox’s Editorial Director LaDonna Willems inspired and encouraged us to speak up!

LaDonna Willems opened her main stage talk at the sold-out In/Visible Talks 2020 conference with a description of the small town where she grew up. Her family’s church had a lot to say about what she could do and say—as well as not do and say—and women were expected to be silent and submissive. Fortunately, a wise woman told her, “You have more power than you know.”

LaDonna found her voice, and her life experiences fed her talk on “Permission to Speak: How to Unleash the Power of Your True Voice.” In it, she encouraged us to be more aware of all the forms of discrimination we face—race, age, disability, orientation. She helped us identify the biases built into our language, such as the use of terms like chairman and you guys. Instead of asking what is acceptable, what is “normal”, she invited us to hear the voices that are different from our own. Instead of focusing on one note, we were encouraged to listen to the entire symphony.

Along with giving us some insights into how Dropbox—where she is Editorial Director—is creating a more enlightened way of working, LaDonna offered tips on how we might make improvements in our own spheres. Making changes throughout our culture is about “more than tooting the horn for diversity and inclusivity”, we learned, and “we define our culture by the stories we tell”.

Ultimately, LaDonna empowered us to be brave. To speak up. “Don’t be afraid to get weird if weird is really your thing,” she said. “Our stories, our voices, matter”

Watch the video of LaDonna’s inspiring talk below or on Vimeo here.