Mattel Inc.’s Business Ethics And Virtue Ethics Essay Example


Virtue ethics are central to the success of any organization. This paper applies three virtue ethics (justice, fairness and honesty) to the case of Mattel Inc. The paper starts by defining the three virtues and proceeds by applying the virtues to the organizational crisis in the company. Lastly, the paper offers a succinct conclusion.

Justice is fair treatment and due reward in line with moral or legal principles. Justice, as used in business ethics, entails evaluations of fairness and the ability to handle what others regard as unjust. The criteria used to judge whether there is justice in a certain situation depends on the perceived rights of persons and on the objectives of the involved parties. In other words, justice deals with the perceptions of people based on their rights and duties at the work place.

Honesty is the value without which businesses cannot long live. It mirrors an upright personality, a commitment to the truth, and a negation to lie, mislead, or steal (Hartman, 2008). Honesty is the greatest benefit that a dealer can bestow on his clients. It is also the greatest benefit that a vendor can give himself, since it makes others to have confidence in him.

Fairness involves ideas of equality, reciprocity, proportionality, impartiality and justice. There are three classifications of fairness: “procedural fairness, distributive fairness, and retributive fairness” (Wierzbicki, 2010, p.15). Procedural fairness centers on the perceptible fairness of actions leading to outcomes. Distributive fairness focuses on distribution of products, resources or costs. Retributive fairness focuses on rule contravention and the harshness of sanctions for actions that contravene the norms.


Mattel Inc lied about making changes in the dormitories. The company’s Global Manufacturing Principles (GMP) recommended a maximum of 12 workers in every room. The aim was to provide the employees with adequate privacy and to reduce noise levels. Apparently, shift changes caused lots of noise in the dormitories, which disrupted sleeping employees (Sethi, Veral, Shapiro, & Emelianova, 2011). Results from three audits indicated that all dormitories contained 30 workers in each room, which was a contravention of GMP standards. In reaction to the initial audit, managers at Mattel Inc promised to make appropriate changes in the re-configuration of the bigger rooms (Seth et al., 2011).

The subsequent round of audit indicated that the company did not effect this change. At the time of the third round of audit, Mattel had declined to effect required changes in the dormitory arrangement, irrespective of past promises to do so. As the audit program ended, Mattel again guaranteed International Center for Corporate Accountability (ICCA) that the company would embark on required changes in the dormitories.

The company also lied about check out time for its employees in Indonesia and Malaysia. The two factories had an electronic system whereby employees recorded their time for entering, but failed to record their exit time. Despite the fact that the first audit report identified this gap, the management did not respond accordingly. Rather than making necessary changes, the management claimed that recording time out was not necessary since all workers left at the same time.

In this perspective, Mattel acted like narcissistic organizations. According to Duchon and Drake (2009), “narcissistic organizations use self entitlements, denial and rationalizations to justify anything they do” (p.1). Eventually, the company lost its identity as an honest company through giving consecutive lies about the dormitories to ICCA. Top management provided rationalizations to validate their behavior and safeguard the protective identify (Duchon, & Drake, 2009).

Apparently, the management would have made clear their position about reconfiguration of the dormitories using logical reasons, rather than lying. If not so, the management would have asked ICCA to allow them sufficient time to effect required changes. By so doing, the company would have wined the trust of ICCA and consequently, their customers and business partners. Besides, the management would have acted honestly by allowing workers to record time-in and time-out of the company. This would ensure that any worker who works overtime receives compensation.


Mattel Inc denied justice to its workers by establishing mandatory dormitory requirements. In the Indonesian factory, the company forced employees to pay dormitory fees, as a condition of their employment. This was a violation of GMP standards. When ICCA raised the issue, the company’s management argued that most employees were young and new to urban life (Sethi et al., 2011). This argument was not convincing, as some employees were married adults.

The management also argued that employees voluntarily agreed to this condition at the time of recruitment. Later, the management decided to excuse some employees from compulsory dormitory requirements. All married and permanent workers were free to reside outside without any further charges. In addition, some non-permanent and unmarried employees chose to lease private residences while still paying the dormitory fee. Apparently, these workers felt that the company denied justice to them and their satisfaction levels must have been low.

Rather than establishing mandatory dormitory requirements, the management would have allowed workers to choose areas of residence where they would be comfortable. Those who wished to stay in the dormitory, especially those new to urban life, would have done so while others looked for private housing outside. This way, the company would have granted employees their personal rights. Although the company would suffer loss due to reduced income from rent, satisfied employees would be more productive and hence, bridge this gap.

Other incidences of injustice were in the Malaysian and Chinese plants. Supervisors at the Malaysian factory forced employees to work overtime even when they were unwilling to do so (Sethi et al., 2011). This was gross contravention of GMP standards. The standards only allowed workers to work overtime on a voluntary basis. In Chinese plants, top management refused to record the exact time when employees left the factory so that they would not be accountable for any overtime dues. ICCA’s second round of audits established that Chinese factories used different time variances, which enabled them to surpass required work hours. Supervisors in these factories also created subjective policies that denied employees overtime payments.

For the sake of justice, Mattel Inc would have followed all laws, permits and standards recommended by GMP and the China Labour Laws. GMP clearly outlined the issue of forced labor. Rather than forcing employees to work, the management would have negotiated to complete the work with willing employees. This way, the management would have safeguarded the rights of all employees, as outlined in the GMP and China Labour Laws. The management would have also enhanced record keeping practices in the company. This would have in turn facilitated the capturing of all employees work time, including overtime, for proper remuneration. The management would as well have considered hiring more workers to ensure that no worker works more than the legally mandated work time.


Mattel Inc was not fair to its workers in various ways. In Mexico, the management of MX3 did not provide any sitting arrangements. Workers remained standing throughout their work periods. In China, employees lived in a dormitory that was almost fully dilapidated. Rather than improving living conditions in the dormitory, managers had a different perspective. They claimed that the dormitory existed long before the launch of GMP and therefore it was unfair to assess the dormitory using GMP principles (Sethi et al., 2011).

Many China plants also imposed monetary deductions from employees’ income. Managers in these plants used cash fines as a form of disciplinary tool (Sethi et al., 2011). It is worth noting that the individual fines imposed by the factories were within the limits allowed by GMP. However, the regularity of the fines, the huge amounts of money acquired from fines and the utilization of these fines raised eyebrows.

The company also ill-treated workers by imposing mandatory monetary deductions for dormitory rooms, even in instances where employees did not live in the dorms. Further, it was not fair for employees to live as 30 people in every room, whereas GMP required a maximum of 12 people in a room. Apparently, there was a lot of commotion in the rooms, particularly during shift changes. As a result, employees lacked sufficient sleep and their right to privacy.

To be fair, the Mexican plant would have made some sitting arrangement for the workers. Standing for long hours makes a person fatigued and reduces productivity. Another aspect that needed consideration was the situation of the dorms.

Further, the management would have reduced the number of people residing in a room to enhance privacy and reduce commotion. Lastly, the management would have monitored the regularity of fines to avoid imposing very hefty fines on same individuals. Most workers spend all their money on basic needs and fees for their children and it is therefore unethical to impose heavy fines on them (Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, 2012).

Deontological Theory

Considering all other normative theories, deontological theory is the most effective in evaluating Mattel’s case. According to Hartman (2008), deontological ethic is “principle-based” (p.13). The theory only focuses on rules and pays little attention to consequences of actions (Cafaro, n.d.).

This theory is the most appropriate in evaluating Mattel’s situation because the case revolves around compliance with GMP. Managers at Mattel established GMP to act as a framework for every facility manufacturing their products in every location of production. GMP included laws dealing with “wages and hours; child labor; forced labor; discrimination; freedom of association; working conditions; legal and ethical business practices; product safety and product quality; environment; customs; evaluation and monitoring; and compliance” (Sethi et al., 2011, p. 486).

Following the launch of GMP, top managers in the company decided to establish Mattel independent monitoring council (MIMCO). MIMCO acted as the company’s external auditor. Its main role was verifying the company’s compliance with the GMP code. MIMCO took each plant at a time and evaluated it thoroughly against all the rules contained in the GMP. Although the council offered various recommendations concerning compliance, there is no part where we find the same council describing actions that followed compliance or noncompliance. For instance, the council does not explain the effects that poor housing conditions had on employees. This corresponds to deontological theories, as they do not consider consequences of actions.

In conclusion, Mattel Inc was not keen on implementing GMP standards in key areas such as working conditions and payment of wages. As a result, many employees at the company were unhappy. If the company’s management were fair, honest and just, it would have been possible to implement these standards. Consequently, employees would have been more comfortable at work place.


Cafaro, P. (n.d.). Virtue ethics (not too) simplified. Web.

Duchon, D., & Drake, B. (2009). Organizational narcissism and virtuous behavior. Journal of Business Ethics, 85(3), 301-308.

Hartman, E. M. (2008). Socratic questions and aristotelian answers: A virtue-based approach to business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 78(3), 313-328.

Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. (2012). Ethical challenges in human resources. Web.

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.

Wierzbicki, A. (2010). Trust and fairness in open, distributed systems. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Racism And Inequality In The United States


The United States is a capitalistic country where economic, social and political activities are done in a free and fair environment. Even though Capitalism is believed to offer freedom and equal opportunities to people, it divides the society into classes based on their economic, social and political status. Few people control means of production and leadership of the country while the majority live in poverty. The socio-economic discrimination promoted by capitalism extends to gender-based inequality. The low-class seems to be colonized by the high-class. The capitalistic ideology and gender inequality has promoted the subject of economic, political and social discrimination in the American context.

First Passage

The following passage is based on the economic and social structure of a capitalistic country. It highlights the practices and effects of capitalism to everyone within the system.

“In other words, what underlies inequality is the class nature of capitalism. The owning minority has a built-in advantage compared to the non-owning minority, both in terms of economic power inside the workplace and political power in the larger society. Whatever they can, they will press their advantages to secure a still large share of the society’s income. Examples are too numerous to mention (Rothenberg 2006: 337).”

First Passage Interpretation

The capitalistic economic and social settings categorize people into classes based on the property they own. In this sense, the society is categorized into high-class, bourgeois or the middle class and the working class or proletariat. The three categories of people live in different economic and social settings. The high-class owns the sources and means of production. Even though they are few, they control economic resources and make major decisions regarding economic activities. They have invested in various industries and own large chunks of land. Although the bourgeois has moderate lifestyle, the high-class that owns the means of production controls them (Rothenberg, 2006). On the other hand, the proletariat or the working class who are the majority depends on the employment opportunities they get from the high-class. The high-class in the society not only controls the economy, but they also control the political positions and other leadership aspects in a country.

Summary Based on the Poem

From the above interpretation, one can deduce that capitalism is a discriminative form of economic ideology. Even though it creates opportunities for everyone, the idea of rising from nowhere to become a successful individual is a bit elusive. As the high-class continues to control leadership positions and means of production, they keep major resources to themselves and their generation. As a result, potential young people among the bourgeois and the proletariat are deprived of the opportunities to access resources. Many children from poor families have special talents and abilities but they cannot fulfill these because they are blocked from accessing opportunities. As a result, the cycle of poverty and economic discrimination continue to thrive.

The concept of economic discrimination as depicted in the passage is also reflected in the poem. The persona of the poems complains of the social and economic segregation dominant in the capitalistic America. The majority of Americans are proletariats who rely on the high-class and bourgeois to survive. The low-class is being oppressed because they have limited access to economic resources and employment opportunities. Their living standards are low and they do not have proper housing facilities. On the other hand, their political leaders do not equally represent them.

Economic, political and social discrimination and inequality in a capitalistic society raises the issue of human rights. As the persona notes, the Amendment Bill of Rights gave every citizen the rights to privacy and freedom of expression. However, the discriminative nature of capitalism has made it difficult for everyone to enjoy the rights (Rothenberg, 2006). The high-class in the society makes policies and they can manipulate them to their advantage. It is why the persona claims that other citizens have decided to keep quiet. The law and the authority do not favor the low-class who is the majority. They cannot express their views to the ruling class. Even if they do, nobody will take their concern with the seriousness it deserves.

In this sense, the idea of being free in a home of brave people as used by the persona of the poem reflects a lack of freedom in a capitalistic society. The only way to get out of the poverty, as stated by the persona of the poem, is to become as brave as the homeowners do. It means that everyone is free to exploit opportunities and make use of them to climb the social ladder. The question many people ask is whether the opportunities and relevant resources are available for people who are willing and ready to exploit them. The majority would want to get out of the poverty cycle but the system could not allow them to do so (Crary, 2016).

Second Passage

The concept of social, political and economic discrimination is also highlighted through colonization and gender inequality. The two aspects of the society are characterized by discrimination and oppression. While colonization is used by one society to control another society’s political leadership and economic resources, men use gender inequality to control women. The following passage has a strong message challenging a colonized society that practices gender inequity.

“Women are further elided through a popular and revealing analogy between ‘women’ and colonised. Here, women’s oppression is compared with colonization, and oppression is something women share with the colonised. This particular connection underscores the masculine character of ‘control over’ relations in general, and ways in which dominated peoples, including the colonised are feminised. But the colonised/women analogy leaves colonised women, and the gender politics of colonisation as it is constructed within both colonised and colonizer groups, unexamined (Rothenberg 2006: 143).”

Second Passage Interpretation

Women have been subjected to various types of discrimination. Men feel they are superior to women and that they have control over women. In a colonized society, women will suffer a double tragedy. First, the colonized men in the society perceive them to be inferior beings. Second, the colonizers subject women to various oppressive acts, including sexual harassment. Both the colonizers and the colonized men subject women to social and economic discriminations. Men control the gender relationship and influence decision-making processes on behalf of women.

Summary Based on the News Article

Based on the news article by Crary (2016), women have struggled to come out of the men’s control. Women have managed to climb the ladder. However, they continue to face sharp criticism from men in terms of gender relations. The article refers to the gender-based criticism of Trump about Hillary Clinton who is the first woman to be nominated as a party presidential candidate of the United States in the current world. Even though the battle reflects the gender discrimination among the ruling class, women in the low-class society face worse challenges (Crary, 2016). The low-class men are colonized by the ruling-class. However, both the ruling class and the colonized men control low-class women. Consequently, women face hurdles as they struggle to climb the social ladder in order to get out of the oppression.


Capitalism leads to discrimination of people who are categorized into classes based on their socio-economic and political status. Because the high-class people control means of production and economic activities, they influence the living standards of the rest. In that sense, it can be concluded that they control or colonize the rest. The problem of discrimination is extended to women in terms of gender relations, especially among the proletariats. While men in this category are colonized by the high-class, they also control women. As a result, women suffer the most. Apart from socio-economic and political discrimination, women undergo gender segregation. In conclusion, Capitalism has encouraged socio-economic, political, and gender-based discrimination.


Crary, D. (2016). Divided America: Gender equality in 2016? It’s complicated. Finance Yahoo, 2(1). Web.

Rothenberg, P. S. (2006). Beyond borders: Thinking critically about global issues. New York: Worth.

Equal Pay Act For American Women

The Equal Pay Act (EPA) was established by the American government in 1963. This law requires equal wages or salaries for every resident of the country, regardless of gender. The following paper is a literature review on the topic of the Equal Pay Act’s validity in the United States of America.

According to Fugiero (2014), laws prohibited American women from working long hours or night shifts during the twentieth century because they were obliged to take care of their children and do housework. On the other hand, men did not have any such restrictions on their professional activities. Laws were even written about how much weight women were allowed to lift. The Equal Pay Act changed this situation because many people did not consider it fair and believed that it was a gender-discriminatory practice.

Another source says that women were confused by these restrictions as they did not believe that employers could benefit from discriminatory hiring practices (“The Equal Pay Act: Equal pay for women,” 2015). Moreover, the female half of the population lacked financial independence and wanted to find worthy jobs, since there is no difference between male or female labor if the work is done well. The author of the third source places emphasis on the fact that women started to be hired for jobs that were considered to be only for men after the establishment of the EPA (“Comparable worth,” 2014). Nowadays, there are many controversies about how appropriate particular genders are for certain jobs.

The need for the Equal Pay Act emerged in America in the sixties because women felt abused and discriminated against due to restrictions that did not allow them to compete for well-paid jobs. Women started protesting and fighting for their rights to be employed and paid on an equal footing with men. There are many literature sources on this topic, but this review has covered the most popular and reliable articles.


Comparable worth. (2014). Web.

Fugiero, M. (2014). Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA). Web.

The Equal Pay Act: Equal pay for women. (2015). Web.

error: Content is protected !!