Help for the environment and business
The importance of being involved in the IEC
By Stephanie McLarty
One of three Young Professional Leaders
As one of the three Young Professional Leaders, I have had the opportunity to talk with many other young delegates from around the world and get their feedback on their IEC participation to date. A constant theme I heard was that while they felt their participation in the IEC was valuable, many of their employers did not readily understand the importance of IEC involvement. This was a considerable challenge, considering their companies and organizations were in some way paying for that participation!
Being self-employed, I reflected on the importance of my participation in the IEC. Since 2008 I have been involved in IEC TC 111: Environmental standardization for electrical and electronic products and systems. While we have been working on documents which ultimately address climate change, resource depletion and loss of biodiversity, I often lost sight of the big picture relevance when working on words and phrases.
What have the results from our participation been? How does the IEC make a difference?
A global environmental success story
I had to search, but not far. With much attention focused on Smart Grid and energy efficiency, I found an entirely different environmental success story right within TC 111.
IEC 62321, Electrotechnical products - Determination of levels of six regulated substances (lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls, polybrominated diphenyl ethers), has already been used widely around the world since its publication in 2008.
This International Standard has been used to check the compliance to the RoHS (Restriction of Hazardous Substances) Directive in Europe, as well as similar regulations in many other countries, including China. Today, most consumer electronics around the world are ROHS compliant – and the IEC has had a significant part in this behind the scenes.
Ultimately this standard plays a major role in ensuring that fewer hazardous substances enter our environment, and therefore reducing the detrimental impacts to our health – and that of our families, fellow citizens and the environment.
Key business advantages
There are many more success stories about how the IEC has helped the environment, benefitted humanity, improved efficiency and more. There are also many success stories of the strategic business advantages that companies involved in standards development have reaped.
For my company, REfficient, one of the most valuable aspects of our IEC involvement has been expanding our network. We are now connected with individuals and companies in 27 countries as a result of the IEC. We have also expanded our network here in Canada.
For a small company, this is a tremendous opportunity – and we have leveraged it. We have turned to our network to gain beneficial information to respond to customer requests and help build a business case for new services.
Other key strategic business advantages echoed by the IEC Young Professionals as being important are providing influence in standards development, knowing what is going on around the world, and understanding what is in the pipeline for future.
The IEC has already noted the importance of measuring results. Tracking the impact and then communicating it effectively will continue to be a great challenge – and opportunity – for the IEC.
With the advent of the IEC Young Professionals Programme, a new generation is asking questions. Why are things done the way they are? Why are they important? Regardless of age or country, the necessity for companies to cut costs and ensure value for any expenses is paramount for everyone.
The IEC is already having a great impact – the key will be to continue to measure and communicate the results for people, businesses and the environment in the years to come.
About Stephanie McLarty
Stephanie McLarty is President of REfficient Inc., a Canadian professional services company that helps organizations to resell, donate and recycle their surplus assets. She is one of three 2010 Young Professional Leaders and a member of IEC TC 111: Environmental standardization for electrical and electronic products and systems.
About the Young Professionals
The IEC Young Professionals' Programme brings together young technical, managerial and engineering professionals in their twenties and mid-thirties. Selected participants will already be familiar with the world of standardization and CA (Conformity Assessment), either because they develop or work with standards.
Through the programme, participants are given the possibility not only to meet their peers and exchange ideas, but also to know how they can become more involved in the standardization process of the IEC. They get to experience standardization work in operation, both on a developmental level (through Technical Committee observation) and in applying them (through the CA systems).
The next IEC Young Professionals' workshop is taking place in October 2011 in Melbourne, Australia, during the IEC General Meeting. IEC National Committees have been invited to submit their nominations by the end of June 2011.
Nominees will have the opportunity to network with professionals from all over the world as well as the occasion to observe both a technical meeting where standards are being developed and the SMB (Standardization Management Board) meeting where the IEC's decision-making body meets to plan and discuss strategic steps concerning the development of International Standards.
Find out more
- IEC TC 111Environmental standardization for electrical and electronic products and systems
- IEC 62321Electrotechnical products - Determination of levels of six regulated substances (lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls, polybrominated diphenyl ethers)
- IEC Young Professionals' ProgrammeBringing forward tomorrow's leaders