AFTER EXPLAINING TO A CLASS OF MBA STUDENTS that I expected each of them to contribute to class discussions, two female Chinese students came up front to talk to me.
"You don't understand, Professor Francis, that where we come from women are not to speak."
I replied, "I respect your culture and your concern. However, you have chosen to come to a different culture to learn, and I believe that when you share with us, you learn and we can also learn from you." They agreed to try. In the following weeks, they began to speak up and made great contributions to the class. And every time I saw them raise their hands, anxious to be heard, it made me proud.
THIS ARTICLE FROM NAOMI SIMSON reminded me of that conversation and the lesson I learned about the lasting importance of giving encouragement and permission to young people to speak up. Who knows what the lifetime impact might be on a young person.
Click here to read Naomi's article Three things young women in business need to know.