Mattel Duty Ethics

Deontological ethics or deontology is the normative ethical position that judges the morality of an action based on the action’s adherence to a rule or rules. Ethics play an important role in any organizations progress to become not only successful but also respected organization in the society. Ethical code of conduct is written by analysis the mission, vision and long term goals of the organization (Vaughn, 2015). The human resource management of an organization incorporates certain values, principles, and codes that are imperative for all the employees to follow so that they realize how to create value with the products and service of the company

Morals are personal, founded in greater portion on personal belief structures. Ethical dilemmas are the ones where in the employees are confronted with choosing a right path over a path leading to more gains which can be professional or personal (Alexander & Moore, 2007). These dilemmas complicate the work place by various other effects like, favoritism, dishonesty, bias, discrimination, conflict of interest, and self-serving bias

Over the last three decades, Mattel Inc has been faced by accusations of unethical conduct of business especially in its overseas operations and supply chain management. In its endeavor to gain public trust, the company created the Global manufacturing principles (GMP) to govern its overseas plants used for manufacturing the toys (Sethi et al., 2011). However, these codes generated little credibility since most of the overseas plants did not follow them.

One of the major ethical issues raised is the treatment of employees. Employees are exploited in terms of low wages and excessive working hours. The working environment is also not safe and the living conditions are unbearable. In china again, benefits and deductions to the employees were against the Chinese labor laws. Plants noted include GY, MEC, and CA, which were not extending any benefits such as leave to the employees. After the first round of audits, GY allowed only one-month leave over three year’s period, CA allowed 45 days of leave but MEC complied with the law (Sethi et al., 2011). It is clear that even after audit reports were released, some of the plants took no heed in adhering to the regulations. They do not tend to recognize that they have a duty of care to the employees.

The other ethical issue with Mattel is the lack to protect the environment. In Indonesia, auditors found presence of chemical odors, noise levels and although PPE was available, it was not being enforced. In addition, instead of the 85db level of noise acceptable, the audits revealed that the level reached 90 db especially in the rot-casting area. In china again, the plants were not adhering to the environmental, workers health and safety issues. Maintenance of facilities was not done according to regulations

Mattel Inc has a duty to all its stakeholders including the employees and the community surrounding them. After the company was surrounded by ethical issues, it created the GMP to help regain public trust. However, audits by the ICCA revealed that most of the plants were not adhering to the GMP code of conduct (Sethi et al., 2011). The company responded to the ICCA findings by providing details of its remedial action. The company worked with individual plants to develop plans to address the findings.

It can be seen that the company has some positive aspects towards its culture. It was committed to being ethical but did not follow its commitment to the latter. First, the company created the GMPS and after the audits report, they created the remedy actions (Sethi et al., 2011). Duty ethics judges the morality of an action based on the adherence to the rules and regulations. Mattel does not seem to follow the set rules and regulations (Vaughn, 2015). In most of the employee’s treatment areas, the company has not adhered to the rules. In china for example, the company does not adhere to the Chinese labor rules. This according to duty ethics is immoral. It is the duty of the company to follow the rules for the benefit of the employees. In this way, the company will be fulfilling its duty to the employees.

The first duty of the Mattel Inc management is satisfying the shareholders by running a successful business. Duty ethics base morality on the principle of obligation. Mattel has an obligation to treat employees’ right and to protect the environment both of which they have failed to do.

Mattel Inc operated by using vendors overseas. When the ethical issues were raised about the vendors, the company had a duty to discontinue its business relationship with these vendors. However, it was noted by ICCA that the company was not willing to cut ties with the vendors. It was also noted that the field operators were happy to ensure GMP compliance in areas that would not disrupt the flow of products (Sethi et al., 2011).

They were more concerned with the consequences of complying with the GMP and not the action of complying. As duty ethics dictates, the plants and vendors ought to have followed the rules and regulations to comply with the GMP as a duty and not worry about the consequences of complying.

The judgment of morality is based on the adherence to rules and not the consequences of the actions. The moral principles of having duty to employees and the community were not adhered to in the Mattel case. Mattel created a voluntary code of conduct and then abandoned it. The company failed to adhere to its duty of complying with its own code of conduct principles. The company was more concerned with making profits rather than following the rules and regulations.

Mattel responded well to the external issues raised by the ICCA. It created the remedy actions. However, the company failed to maintain the required response for long. The cost of GMP compliance was not significant at the procurement level and thus the field managers delayed compliance wit the GMP to contain costs. Instead of adhering to their duty, which complying with the code of conduct, the field managers considered the consequences and choose the best action based on good results.

The auditors of Mattel can surely be held responsible to ensure that the GMP was being complied with. They should have realized beforehand that the GMP was not being adhered to and created the remedy actions before the ICCA did its audits (Sethi et al., 2011). Mattel itself created the GMP code of conduct for its vendors to follow and the vendors had a duty to comply. Morally, the vendors were immoral in that they considered the consequence of complying instead of doing the right thing no matter the consequences.



Alexander, L., & Moore, M. (2007). Deontological ethics.

Sethi, S., Veral, E., Shapiro, H., & Emelianova, O. (2011). Mattel, Inc.: Global manufacturing principles (GMP) – A life-cycle analysis of a company-based code of conduct in the toy industry.Journal of Business Ethics, 99(4), 483-517. Retrieved from ProQuest.

Vaughn, L. (2015). Doing ethics: Moral reasoning and contemporary issues. WW Norton & Company.

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