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Posted on May 1st, 2014, by

The case of Mattel Inc., one of the leading toy companies in the world discussed and analyzed in the research article Mattel, Inc.: Global Manufacturing Principles (GMP) – A Life-Cycle Analysis of a Company-Based Code of Conduct in the Toy Industry by S. Prakash Sethi, Emre Veral, H. Jack Shapiro and Olga Emelianova, helps to evaluate the significant role of virtues in business. It is known that Mattel Inc. is a multinational corporation which developed and implemented the voluntary code of conduct, called The Global Manufacturing Principles in 1997. This Code was focused on such important issues as wages and hours of the workers, discrimination, child labor, forced labor, product quality and product safety, environment protection and respect for local traditions, values and cultures (Sethi et al., 2011, p.484). In order to apply the three above mentioned virtues to the case, it is necessary to refer to such issues as the company’s working conditions, worker safety, fairness, organizational attitudes towards the environment, etc. Justice, honesty and kindness as virtues might have been used to appropriately guide the actions and policies of the company. For example, the case of Plant 7, which was inspected by the audit specialists, had the following violations of the Code of Conduct: significant non-compliance issues in such areas as wage payments, excessive overtime hours and poor record-keeping regarding working hours and wage payments (Sethi et al., 2011, p.511). In this case, the company might have used justice and honesty as virtues, in order to comply with the established rules and regulations of the voluntary code of conduct. The employees might have been honest to provide correct record-keeping of working hours and wage payments to the workers. In addition, after the plant was revisited three more times, it was found that the plant faced a number of non-compliance issues, such as mandatory deductions for medical check-ups of the workers, recruitment fees, charges for the workers’ uniforms, discrimination acts at hiring for pregnant women as workers. In this case, the company might have used justice, honesty and kindness and provided the workers with free uniforms and avoid the acts of discrimination at hiring pregnant women. Pregnant women might have been given such benefits as reduced working day, additional payments, etc. One more violation was focused on routine work on Sundays. The workers were forced to have perpetual working schedule with only one rest day every two weeks. The plant administration might have used justice and provided the workers with one rest day every 7 days, as was mentioned in the code of conduct of the company. The other example is the Plant 18. During the audit in 2005, the larger part of the workers was told not to come to the plant on the day of the audit, while other part of the workers was coached by the managers to give predetermined answers. In this case, honesty might have been used to avoid cheating and lying.


The most appropriate normative ethics for evaluation the Mattel case is deontological ethics because this ethics judges the morality of actions based on the individual’s adherence to the established rules and regulations. It is found that ďdeontological school of ethics argues that rightness of action is determined by certain rules in placeĒĚ (Chatterjee, 2009, p.139). As deontological ethics stands for the so called rules and duty-based ethics, the Mattel case can be used as an example of crude violation of the established rules and regulations of the company’s code of conduct. Deontological ethics prohibits lying, but the situation described in the research article proves the fact that in all cases, there was lying, cheating and theft. It is known that to follow the correct moral rules is not enough, because it is very important to have the correct motivations in action and behavior. In our case, the violations of the rules led to poor treatment of the workers. The company’s managers failed to perform their duties in a proper way and they inflicted harm to the life and health of the workers. According to Edwin Micewski and Carmelita Troy (2007), principles of deontology should help the executives in their decision-making process, particularly when they are tempted ďto operate outside of codified legislationĒĚ (p.17).


In conclusion, it is necessary to say that virtue ethics plays a significant role not only in any business organization, but also in the life of any individual. The Mattel case gives an opportunity to evaluate the role of ethics in business and to find the appropriate methods to solve the existing ethical problems. Justice, honesty and kindness are key virtues which should be developed in each individual. The Mattel Inc. as a toy company that produces toys for children should develop the best traits of human character in its employees who should put their hearts in such products as toys for children

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