This is “Case Study 8: No Dogs Allowed”, section 7.8 from the book Cultural Intelligence for Leaders (v. 1.0).
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A teenaged girl, Mary, enters the Ellendale County Public Library with a small dog and heads to the “teen books” area. She sits down at one of the tables, opens up her backpack, and takes out a textbook and piece of paper. Her dog is next to her, on the floor.
At a table next to Mary sits Ron and his mother, Alice. Ron’s mother is helping him with research for school. She notices the dog, gets up, and looks for a librarian. Upon finding one, she says, “My son is allergic to dogs and that girl brought a dog to the library. He’s not going to be able to study with the dog around. Can you do something about this?”
Susan, the librarian, knows that the library has a “no animal policy,” except for service dogs. The policy also states that the library cannot directly question patrons if the dog is a service dog. Susan looks over at Mary and does not see any visible reasons for why the dog should be there. She heads over and tells Mary that she cannot have a dog in the library.
Mary does not understand everything the librarian says because she is hearing impaired. She needs the dog to alert her to things she cannot hear. Mary responds, but Susan does not understand Mary’s speech patterns.
“I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to leave,” Susan says with finality.
Later that day, Craig, the director of the Ellendale County Public Library system, receives a phone call from Mary’s father, Joseph, who informs him about the situation. Craig’s been in his position for 3 years and with the county library for 10 years. As he listens to Joseph, he realizes that there needs to be some changes to the library’s policy and training for the librarians. He is going to bring up this issue at next week’s management meeting and have a conversation about strategies that will resolve these issues in the future.
To help Craig prepare for his management team meeting, use the cultural intelligence principles to help him analyze the situation that has occurred. You may use the following questions to guide your thinking:
There are several items at play in this situation that Craig needs to understand when speaking with his staff: