Fit for purpose: Women, France and the Burqa ban

0 Posted by - May 1, 2011 - Trends & New Thinking, Views & Interviews

France’s provocative move to ban the Burqa (face veil) raises many questions. I am surrounded by women who cover their faces and lead perfectly normal lives like most other women on Planet Earth.  So, I couldn’t see why France would want to make a national issue of a dress choice of a mere 2000 women out of their female population of 5 million! To me this is a poorly selected ‘Citizen Conform’ project with dubious objectives.

Mr. Sarkozy, commenting on the burqa, is reported to have said, ‘it contradicts the countries values of equality and dignity”. OK! This was intriguing as to my mind equality and dignity is inclusive terms simply translated, as everyone is welcome and respected. So how were these relatively small number of face covered women threatening that? I went back to Google to better understand what he could mean. defines these terms as follows:


Equality – the state or quality of being equal in quantity, degree, value, rank or ability.

Dignity – the state or quality of being worthy of esteem or respect.


AHHH so there was a quality control issue here! Having spent agonizing months studying Quality Management and even more memorable ones planning and haggling issues related to it, I felt involved  and attached to this subject  and hence felt my opinion had to be heard.

Quality on any type of project is generally producing or offering something that the customer is expecting.


Banking call center’s come to mind. Not many people would argue that it is considered very normal process to part with confidential and personal information to a faceless voice on the end of a phone. It doesn’t bother anyone that we cannot see what they look like, the clothes they are wearing or their choice of hairdo  and nor do you expect to see them.


This level of detail is relatively unimportant and why should you care?


Its unnecessary extras as long as this faceless person ‘gets on with their job’ and provides the service you want, everything is ok.


I would be correct to say that technical details such as colour of skin, nationality, disability, religion, sexual orientation, are completely irrelevant and ‘gold plating’ as we would say in project management. As the customer if your expectation is met with complete satisfaction, they spoke to you amicably and no dignity or equality was lost. This random person proved to be ‘fit for purpose’ and they delivered quality.


Picture the possibility that you could encounter an annoying script reading robot on the end of the phone that despite your abuse fails to listen and understand your needs causing both to lose dignity and equality. Analysis would be that this person was ‘unfit for purpose’ and quality was not achieved in this instance. Even in this scenario this persons ‘grade’ (technical details) the way they look, whether they are in Burqa or in a power suit would not be subject of analysis. Effort would be put on checking and then controlling the quality through corrective actions to rectify the problem.


In France evidence suggests these Burqa wearing women are law abiding citizens, mothers, partners and professionals who contribute to society like all other citizens and hence are fit for purpose and meet quality expectations. Their hairdo, facial expressions or personal dress preference is irrelevant gold plating and in my opinion a gross exhaustion of time, money and resource, taking the country on a deviation completely off target.

1 Comment

  • fozia May 18, 2011 - 5:54 pm Reply

    Thoughtful article, interesting perspective!

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