Corporate Social Responsibility Case Analysis
The number of multinational corporations which face lawsuits due to unethical and unfair
business behavior has been on the rise in the recent past. As companies continue to expand their
operations into various countries around the world, there has been increasing public concern
about environmental degradation and exploitation of workers. Global organizations that wish to
survive in the global business environment have developed clear codes of conduct that can help
guide their activities as well as those of their stakeholders (Sethi, 2011). Unfortunately, very few
organizations tend to abide by the policies documented in their codes of conducts, and they
continue to engage in unfair and unethical business practices which make them face lawsuits.
Mattel Inc. is a good example of those companies that created a good code of conduct which was
later abandoned after being in use for nine years (Sethi, Veral, Shapiro and Emelianova, 2011).
This paper analyzes how three virtues; integrity, fairness, and kindness, apply to Mattel’s case
based on how they were used to guide certain actions and behaviors in the company.
Definition of the three virtues
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Merriam-Webster dictionary defines fairness as an action that is “marked by impartiality
and honesty.” Based on this definition, it would be right to say that a good act is that which is
free from self-interest and that places other people’s needs into consideration. The same
dictionary defines integrity as “firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values.”
In this respect, a person is said to have maintained integrity if he or she adheres to set rules and
codes. Kindness is defined as the act of “treating people with respect and affection (Merriam-
Webster dictionary)” Integrity, fairness, and kindness are virtues that help people to relate
peacefully in their social settings. Like any other human being, organizations are expected to
demonstrate integrity, fairness, and kindness in their daily operations in their efforts towards
achieving sustainability (Carroll, Brown and Buchholtz, 2017). The three virtues can be used to
explain certain actions and behaviors in Mattel’s case to assess the company’s adherence to
Mattel’s code of conduct outlines rules that the company should follow on some issues
including product quality, working conditions for workers, respect towards the environment,
employee safety, and discrimination, among others. A critical analysis of Mattel’s case reveals
that the company has violated the virtue of integrity in some ways. For example, concerning the
case of Plant 7, Mattel has interfered with data integrity by keeping poor records for employee
wage payments and working hours. Mattel’s code of conduct clearly documents best practices
that should be followed during data entry and record keeping. However, it has failed to observe
data integrity, thereby going against the requirements of virtue ethics (Sethi et. al., 2011).
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Mattel’s employees should promote integrity by adhering to the documented rules and
regulations that govern record keeping and data entry. Specifically, they should keep the right
records for employees’ wage payments and working hours. Mattel Inc. should know that
integrity is a very important virtue in the global business environment because it helps a
company to build a positive reputation in the face of the public (Carroll, Brown, and Buchholtz,
In Mattel’s code of conduct, the company states its commitment towards treating its
workers with maximum fairness without any form of discrimination. On the contrary, it has
failed to maintain compliance to fairness in some activities thereby violating virtue ethics. For
example, after continued assessment on Mattel’s premises, it has been discovered that the
company forces pregnant women to work equal hours as other employees without any extra
payments. Furthermore, it has been revealed that the company compels workers to perform
routine activities even on Sundays and they are only allowed one day for rest in a perpetual work
schedule that ran for two weeks. These two behaviors demonstrate that Mattel does not put the
interests of its workers into consideration when planning work schedules and when assigning
tasks (Sethi et. al., 2011; & Carroll, Brown and Buchholtz, 2017).
To maximize fairness as documented in its code of conduct, Mattel should consider
health status of its workers when assigning business-related tasks. For example, it should reduce
working hours for pregnant women considering their inability to perform difficult tasks for long
hours. Such actions will keep this category of employees motivated, and they will be willing to
continue working for the organization. Furthermore, Mattel should give its workers time to rest
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to allow them to attend to other personal issues like going to church. The company should
recognize that effective human resource practices are crucial for survival in the global business
environment (Sethi, 2011; & Carroll, Brown and Buchholtz, 2017).
Mattel Inc. violates the virtue of kindness in the manner in which it handles it,
employees. For example, the company makes mandatory deductions every time its workers
undergo medical check-ups irrespective of the health condition being assessed. Furthermore,
Mattel charges recruitment fees for all candidates who are applying for various vacant positions
in the company. It also requires workers to purchase uniforms at relatively high prices at a time
when workers can be allowed to have them for free. These acts of unkindness de-motivate
workers and make them lose the interest of continuing to work for the organization. The
company’s administration should review its code of conduct and engage only in those activities
that will maximize kindness for its workers (Sethi et. al., 2011).
The best action that Mattel Inc. should take to demonstrate a commitment to ethics
concerning the virtue of kindness is to eliminate mandatory deductions made on employee
medical check-ups, avoid charging recruitment fees and give all its workers uniforms for free. As
Sethi (2011) explains, virtue ethics such as integrity, fairness, and kindness play a very
significant role in the global business environment because they help organizations to build good
reputations. Mattel Inc. should know then investors, suppliers, creditors, employees, and
customers would only like to associate with organizations with a good reputation. For this
reason, it must observe virtue ethics by ensuring that all its activities comply with the rules that
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have been documented in the code of conduct (Carroll, Brown, and Buchholtz, 2017; & Sethi
The case of Mattel Inc. is of great relevance for today’s organizations that are striving to
achieve sustainability. Modern global corporations can make reference to the case and learn best
practices that they should implement to become ethical organizations. The case gives companies
an opportunity to evaluate the value of ethics in a global business environment.
Carroll, A., Brown, J. & Buchholtz, A. (2017). Business and Society: Ethics, sustainability and
stakeholder management. Cengage Learning: ISBN 1305959825.
Sethi, P. S. (2011). Globalization and self-regulation: The crucial role that corporate codes of
conduct play in global business. Palgrave Macmillan: ISBN:113751244X.
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.