To help to ensure a safe, secure, and more inclusive working environment for everyone, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) Joint Strategic Advisory Group on Gender Responsive Standards (ISO/IEC JSAG GRS) have developed new guidance on gender responsive standards (GRS). ANSI is the U.S. member body to ISO and (via the U.S. National Committee) the IEC.
The GRS guidance, formed under a joint mandate from the IEC Standardization Management Board (SMB) and ISO Technical Management Board (TMB), was developed in keeping with the organizations’ commitments under the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Gender-Responsive Standards Initiative (UNECE GSRI), and with input provided by UNECE.
The GSRI initiative, which launched work in 2016, aims at providing a practical way forward for standards bodies wishing to take a step toward making the standards they develop and the standards development process they follow gender responsive. There is clear evidence that empowering and promoting the greater inclusion of a “gendered lens” in standardization and regulatory policy will create more sustained and inclusive economic growth, necessary to reduce inequalities. Moreover, gender responsive standards will help to ensure safe and secure working environments for all workers.
With diversity and inclusion as central pillars in both the IEC and ISO strategies, it is more important than ever that international standards provide equal benefit to women and men. Even in fields of activity where gender implications may not be readily apparent, if a standard is used by humans, it is important to ask the questions contained within the GRS guidance to determine the extent of potential gender implications.
In the coming months, the JSAG will seek input from the IEC and ISO technical communities on the utility of the GRS guidance and will be collecting specific case studies related to the guidance across product, process, service, and management system standards. Additionally, over the coming 18 months, the JSAG will collaborate with UNECE in the deployment of training on the GRS guidance to IEC and ISO technical communities.