Mattel – Code of Conduct: At Mattel, playing fair is one of our core values and the cornerstone of our ethical compliance program. We know that how we achieve success is just as important as the success itself, and this recognition underscores our commitment to conduct our business with the highest level of integrity. In business, we may not always be able to choose the challenges we face, the problems we must solve, the obstacles we must overcome and the opportunities we may embrace, but we do have a choice in how we make these decisions.
Every Mattel employee is responsible for acting with integrity, treating others with dignity and respect, being honest and fair in all transactions, and consistently striving to do the right thing. Case Study AssessmentThe children’s toy manufacturing industry does have a moral, societal, as well as a special responsibility for ensuring that their toys are safe for children to play with, and that their components do not pose a risk to the health of children.. As such, it is the manufacturer’s sole responsibility to verify that the goods they are manufacturing and selling comply with all relevant legislations and/or regulatory requirements.
Furthermore, corporations that manufacture products catering specifically to children, also have special obligations to consumers and society in general for ensuring that their products are acceptable to the moral, as well as ethical standards established by consumers and society. While corporations who place toys on the market have the right to outsource the responsibility for the manufacturing, they do not have the right to outsource the accountability. As such, they can face legal action or prosecution for any missteps, as well as experience societal pressures.
Based on the case study, as well as additional research performed, my assessment of Mattel is that they have been an industry leader in toy manufacturing. Over the years, they have been committed to delivering products that would stand up to safety, health, environmental requirements, as well as consumer and societal expectations. Largely Mattel has been effective at encouraging ethical standards of the manufacturers to whom they outsource their work. The policies established by Mattel requires their third party providers, manufacturers and vendors to adhere to Mattel’s Global Manufacturing Principles, which includes ensuring or fair, ethical, and legal practices in conducting their business. Mattel also engages the services of independent third-party auditing agencies in an effort to ensure for adherence to their strict legal and ethical guidelines. Mattel also effectively demonstrated that having a solid ethics program and culture is vital to the success and reputation of their organization. However, while Mattel believes in maintaining strong ethics, there are others in the industry who will at all means do whatever it takes to achieve their goals, even if it means acting unethically.
Acting ethically requires leaders to base their decision-making on a set of established core values. The utilization and influence of value based ethics in their decision making process is crucial to the success of any type of organization, as failure to do so can lead to reputational, legal, as well as financial repercussions. Furthermore, it is important that an organization, such as Mattel, establishes core values, and base their decisions on what is morally right and fair for their consumers and employees.
Success usually comes from consistently doing what is right and ethical and in adherence with the organizations corporate core values. Even though some companies who forgo a value and ethical based approach when making decisions may demonstrate wins, more often than not they are short-lived wins. Organizations that use sound judgment end up winning in the end. While Mattel’s overall efforts can be applauded, as a recognized leader in the industry, they can do more. As a leading global company, with relationships around the world, Mattel could assist in establishing higher international workplace and business standards.
These standards would not only serve as guidelines for conducting responsible manufacturing, but would also serve to demonstrate respect for cultural, ethical, and philosophical differences of the many countries in which Mattel operates. Additionally, Mattel can enhance their efforts in helping other companies implement these forms of plans and subsequent actions. Furthermore, while preventative measures are good, there also needs to be punitive measures, which result in companies who desire to do business with Mattel having to observe and maintain agreed upon ethical and legal standards, or risk loss of that business relationship.
Mattel should also work with their distributors and retailers in requesting that they hold Mattel accountable for ensuring that all goods they distribute or sell meet the legal and regulatory requirements as set forth by the United States, or other countries, in which they may operate. This would provide multiple channels for validating the safety of the toys. Having this additional oversight and potential liability over their heads Mattel may be even more attentive to ensuring that their products are safe. Compliance is only as reliable as the strength of the enforcement of the system.
The enforcement of product safety is an important task, not only to protect consumers from unsafe products, but also to ensure for a level playing field. Therefore, Mattel should implement a sustainable certification program for their business partners, and vendors, which is subject to independent audits without notice. If Mattel’s audit determines that any of its manufacturing partners or vendors has violated their principles they can either terminate their business relationship or ensure corrective measures are taken.
If corrective action is advised but not taken, Mattel will than immediately terminate current production and suspend placement of future orders. Thus, a key challenge for Mattel will be implementing a sustainable certification process of their business partners with respect to their manufacturing principles. Furthermore, the issues experienced by Mattel were without question 100% their responsibility. As previously stated, Mattel can outsource the responsibility for manufacturing, but they cannot outsource the accountability. While some might view that as a fine line, in actuality there is a big difference.
Even though Mattel favored business partners who were committed to ethical standards that were compatible with their own, they failed to provide the proper oversight and governance in ensuring for such. Mattel toys had been manufactured primarily from materials that have a long and extensive history of safe usage. Mattel was considered a responsible toy manufacturer who would not use any material that did not adhere to the stringent safety requirements for dangerous substances in their toys, as such, Mattel paid close attention to any new scientific developments regarding toy safety, subsequently taking warranted and appropriate action.
However, through change in the ranks of their executive leadership, they seemed to have lost their focus and their lack of attention and action conflicted with their own guiding principles. At a minimum, Mattel should have ensured their business partners, and tier three providers, complied with all local and national laws of the countries in which they operate. Going forward, Mattel’s future business partners should be disengaged if they fail to meet all of Mattel’s manufacturing principles.