A Conversation with Mauricio Céspedes Mirabelli, Executive Director of Instituto de Normas Técnicas de Costa Rica
We recently spoke with Mauricio Céspedes Mirabelli, executive director of our MOU partner organization, the Technical Standards Institute of Costa Rica, Instituto de Normas Técnicas de Costa Rica (INTECO), on how our organizations are collaborating on standards to help improve safety, security, and sustainability in Costa Rica. Read the full interview below:
Question: Could you briefly introduce INTECO, its mission and vision?
Mauricio Céspedes Mirabelli: Costa Rica's National Institute of Standards is declared as a public utility or public interest by the Costa Rican government, and as a private, not-for-profit organization, we are the national standards body in Costa Rica, and we represent our country in international and regional standardization organizations such as ISO and La Comisión Panamericana de Normas Técnicas (COPANT). We also provide conformity assessment and training services. Our mission is to promote continuous improvement in the quality of life, products and services. Our vision is to promote and guide sectors and organizations to be increasingly modern, competitive and sustainable.
Q: Why did INTECO decide to become an MOU partner with UL Standards & Engagement?
Mauricio Céspedes Mirabelli: Costa Rica’s electrical code is based on the North American model and most of the electrical products that are used have UL certification. Secondly, because it gives us access to information on published standards which are recognized in different countries worldwide. And finally, for us at INTECO it is important to have access to knowledge and technical advice.
Q: Which UL Standards & Engagement resources do you find beneficial?
Mauricio Céspedes Mirabelli: As we are a small country and a small NSB, practically all the resources are very important and beneficial for us. The standards allowed us to contribute with the electrical code and national requirements. Due to the influence Costa Rica has in production and imports coming from the United States we managed to have access to the standards that are used to certify products in the country.
Q: What is the positive impact of INTECO’s association with UL Standards & Engagement when it comes to adoption and adaptation of safety standards?
Mauricio Céspedes Mirabelli: We have the certainty that we adopt standards that have validation of experts from international organizations who participate in all UL Standards & Engagement process and their recognition. Copyrights are important for INTECO as it gives us all the legal rights and validation that everything we do is with quality.
Q: Can you highlight any achievements that have emerged from this association?
Mauricio Céspedes Mirabelli: INTECO has adopted 40-45 UL standards approximately. This is important because we can offer an extended catalogue of standards to the companies in Costa Rica, and this contributes to achieve quality requirements and give the best products to the society that the society deserves. We have a lot of support from the organization in terms of knowledge transfer, which is fundamental for us to be able to do our work with quality and achieve our goals, mission and vision.
Q: How important is diversity and inclusion in standards development? What is your take on the role of women in the field of standards?
Mauricio Céspedes Mirabelli: Diversity and inclusion in standards development is very important for INTECO. As in many countries, Costa Rica has presented important gaps in economic issues. Paid work between women and men – although as a country we have made progress there – are great differences in the economic spheres and political participation of women. For example, 55% of members of our board of directors in INTECO are women, 65% of our staff are women, 50% of management positions at INTECO are held by women. We don’t have salary differences between men and women. In 2020 we signed the United Nations Declaration on Gender-Responsive Standards and Standards Development. We also have a gender equality committee that has developed several standards that are focused on the promotion of gender equality in the workplace. Our requirement is to have a management system for gender equality with tangible actions and have changes in the organization to promote gender equality. The percentage of women participating in our standards committees stands at 33%. It is an issue we are working on to increase it from 33% and have more women participating in our standards committees. In Costa Rica for the past 5 to 10 years companies have been very proactive with initiatives related to addressing gender issues. INTECO decided to have a committee on gender equality and the first thing we told ourselves is, we are the ones that must be at the forefront setting an example by working internally. It was a proactive decision on our part. We have been working on closing the gender gap in the last 5 to 7 years.
Q: UL Standards & Engagement recently launched a new brand and identity, expanding its scope to include both standards and engagement. Have you seen or heard about this, and do you have any initial reactions?
Mauricio Céspedes Mirabelli: I saw the launch of all the brands of the UL enterprise. When I saw the UL Standards & Engagement branding, I remember speaking about it with my marketing expert who said, “Normally, the color green represents prosperity and balance.” We told each other at the end of the day that is what standardization is all about. It makes sense – the brand, the color and the concept.