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The Case of the Mattel Toy Company Essay

According to the instructions for this case study, three virtues were to be chosen to identify with the case study. In keeping with the instructions, I have chosen Honesty, generosity and justice as the 3 virtues to associate with the case. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states, “A virtue such as honesty or generosity is not just a tendency to do what is honest or generous, nor is it to be helpfully specified as a “desirable” or “morally valuable” character trait. It is, indeed a character trait — that is, a disposition which is well entrenched in its possessor, something that, as we say “goes all the way down”, unlike a habit such as being a tea-drinker — but the disposition in question, far from being a single track disposition to do honest actions, or even honest actions for certain reasons, is multi-track. It is concerned with many other actions as well, with emotions and emotional reactions, choices, values, desires, perceptions, attitudes, interests, expectations and sensibilities.

To possess a virtue is to be a certain sort of person with a certain complex mindset. (Hence the extreme recklessness of attributing a virtue on the basis of a single action.)” “The most significant aspect of this mindset is the wholehearted acceptance of a certain range of considerations as reasons for action. An honest person cannot be identified simply as one who, for example, practices honest dealing, and does not cheat. If such actions are done merely because the agent thinks that honesty is the best policy, or because they fear being caught out, rather than through recognizing “To do otherwise would be dishonest” as the relevant reason, they are not the actions of an honest person. An honest person cannot be identified simply as one who, for example, always tells the truth, nor even as one who always tells the truth because it is the truth, for one can have the virtue of honesty without being tactless or indiscreet. The honest person recognizes “That would be a lie” as a strong (though perhaps not overriding) reason for not making certain statements in certain circumstances, and gives due, but not overriding, weight to “That would be the truth” as a reason for making them.”

An honest person’s reasons and choices with respect to honest and dishonest actions reflect her views about honesty and truth — but of course such views manifest themselves with respect to other actions and to emotional reactions as well. Valuing honesty as she does, she chooses, where possible to work with honest people, to have honest friends, to bring up her children to be honest. She disapproves of, dislikes, deplores dishonesty, is not amused by certain tales of chicanery, despises or pities those who succeed by dishonest means rather than thinking they have been clever, is unsurprised, or pleased (as appropriate) when honesty triumphs, is shocked or distressed when those near and dear to her do what is dishonest and so on.” Encyclopedia Britannica defines Justice as, “the maintenance or administration of what is just especially by the impartial adjustment of conflicting claims “or the assignment of merited rewards or punishments, the administration of law; especially the establishment or determination of rights according to the rules of law or equity.

The quality of being just, impartial, or fair. ‘The principle or ideal of just dealing or right action, conformity to this principle or ideal, righteousness, the quality of conforming to law, and conformity to truth, fact, or reason or correctness.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states, “When we speak of justice as a virtue, we are usually referring to a trait of individuals, even if we conceive the justice of individuals as having some (grounding) reference to social justice. But Rawls and others regard justice as “the first virtue of social institutions” (1971, p. 3), so “justice as a virtue” is actually ambiguous as between individual and social applications. This essay will reflect and explore that ambiguity, though the principal focus will understandably be on the justice of individuals.

“However, even the idea of individual justice seems ambiguous in regard to scope. Plato in the Republic treats justice as an overarching virtue of individuals (and of societies), meaning that almost every issue he (or we) would regard as ethical comes in under the notion of justice (dikaosoune). But in modern usages justice covers only part of individual morality, and we don’t readily think of someone as unjust if they lie or neglect their children–other epithets more readily spring to mind. What individual justice most naturally refers to are moral issues having to do with goods or property. It is, we say, unjust for someone to steal from people or not to give them what he owes them, and it is also unjust if someone called upon to distribute something good (or bad or both) among members of a group uses an arbitrary or unjustified basis for making the distribution (this last aspect of individual justice obviously has reference to social or at least group justice).

Discussion of justice as an individual virtue standardly (at least) centers on questions, therefore, about property and other distributable goods.” When studying the case you find that Mattel toy company was accused of importing toy made up of hazardous materials through or from their oversees affiliates. Thus sparking one the largest Major recall of toys in history. Here are four different articles to support my claim, taken from the Proquest Library:

1. “With the Christmas shopping season kicking into high gear, parents in the U.S. and Europe are asking: Are the Chinese toys they’re buying safe? Chinese parents face an even more critical question: What can they safely feed their children? It’s been nearly three months since the massive melamine dairy contamination scandal, and new cases continue to be uncovered almost daily. Meanwhile, it’s been more than a year since Mattel recalled millions of made-in-China toys due to lead contamination. Last week Canada launched its largest-ever product recall of a made-in-China stuffed toy contaminated with lead. Clearly there’s still a problem.”

2. Long-standing concerns about the safety of Chinese exports flared anew this week after an investigation by The Associated Press found that 12 of 103 pieces of mainly Chinese-made children’s jewelry bought in the Unites States contained at least 10 percent cadmium, some in the 80-90 percent range. Two had less than 10 percent and the rest had none.

3. The voracious demand of Western consumers for cheaply made Chinese goods has shriveled with the global financial crisis; the appreciating Yuan has made goods more expensive; quality concerns hit orders after the Mattel lead-tainted toy scandal; and a new labour law has raised production costs.

4. Most toys that are tested are harmless, some of them containing even no chemical substance at all, the Ecology Center remarks. The same observation is made by Asia Inspection: both agree to say that, following the Mattel scandal, everyone’s attention has been reinforced (Chinese and Western governments, Asian suppliers, importers). However, we still stand quite far from a risk-free supply chain. “It is critical that Western governments take concrete action to encourage retailers and importers to systematically control their Asian suppliers: now only 20% of containers leaving China are inspected…. The impulsion for better quality must come from Western countries”, observes Sebastien Breteau. He recommends to French consumers to “check carefully before buying a toy that the packaging includes a CE marking (European conformity), the origin of the product and the name of the importer.”

It is a fact that situation like this can get to be very messy and expensive. This Major recall came on the heal of the company already going through the scrutiny and allegations of various human rights issue such as the use of underage labor, unsanitary working conditions and unfair wages which all and more are common practices in oversees or third world country factories where the majority of the toys made in today economy. These instances and many like them have been well documented and even addressed by world leader and actives throughout the world. To the Mattel toy company’s credit, when asked to sign up for code of ethics to reform these issues, the Mattel toy company signed up for compliance code of ethics. But like most companies in today’s world the economic reality set in as depicted in the case study and I quote,” 1. The company’s top management did not see any economic benefit from its proactive response to code compliance when other companies in the industry did not seem to suffer adverse consequences for not pursuing a robust and transparent form of code compliance.

Thus, the company had to justify its GMP-related actions as ‘‘the Right thing to do,’’ a position that required a sustained level of value-based ethical commitment. 2. Mattel’s top management was distracted with other issues pertaining to its manufacturing and marketing activities, which had strong and potentially negative impact on corporate reputation. Mattel was engulfed in a product recall of 17.4 million toys because of loose magnets that could be swallowed by children. The company also recalled another 2.2 million toys because of impermissible levels of lead in the toys. It was the biggest recall in the company’s history. As if all this adverse publicity was not enough, one of Mattel’s senior executives made a widely publicized public apology to Chinese authorities for inadvertently blaming China’s weak regulation of that country’s toy factories (Press Trust of India, 2007; Story, 2007; Story and Barboza, 2007).”

Eventually, the code Compliance and the cooperation regarding transparency in inspections and any other cooperation needed for verification of the program fell short and became a business as usual program. The program thus fell of the radar as a priority of the top leadership and thus like most companies, if the leadership does not support a program, than neither will subordinates, so eventually the program fell apart and became just another program in which one say in my opinion was on paper but with no serious attention given.

Now, for the case I have chosen the utilitarian ethics to make my point, for to me the one embodies the total concept of leadership. My reason is simple; utilitarianism supports the greater good for all and it is clear from this case, in the end regardless of the arguments made of human rights abuses and even the public relation issues surrounding the recall of Mattel toys, the company took the low road in my opinion and let economic s drive their thoughts and feelings.

It is clear that the focus shifted from the greater good which would have a great effect on all starting from the lower level worker to the top executives, in the final analysis it is my opinion the desire to remain on top as the world’s largest toy maker and distributor along with rising costs and cost litigation the focus of top executives clearly shifted from one of let’s take care all to let’s take care of the bottom line and than being investors and the profit margin. It is clear they knew there were problems in their manufacturing sector with health Well fare and safety as was shown in its recall of its products. This is proof positive in my mind that the greater good for all went out the window “with the bath water” as my mother would say.

Conclusion, Mattel like many other US companies have chosen to outsource the productivity of it toys. It is a fact that most third world countries can produce these toys at a cheaper rate than American factories for they do not have to content with the rigors of the regulatory requirements place on the work place by Human right groups, Lobbyist and in the end government legislation and intervention. An important factor to keep in mind is that the rules that apply to US manufactures, these world countries are not subject too. Thus, many of the Human rights laws or over looked and or not followed at all. As I have stated Mattel had to be aware of this and by their own admission, ignored these issues.

Now with that said, I do not fault Cooperation’s for making money for after all this is what they are in business for, and I am aware that company owes it to their investors to get most for their dollar. However, the action of Mattel in this case, in my opinion does not reflect honesty, generosity and it is surely reflect no justice at all. The ones most affected here are the people who make these toys in those third world countries that face these unsanitary harsh hazardous conditions and the clear winner here is the company’s that continue to outsource their work to these countries. My mother had an old saying that would fit good here and that’s, “the clocker is as bad as the rogue.” Translation, Mattel whether they admit it or not, by their continued usage and lack of interest in the improvements in the factories where the toys are produced may as well is committing the acts against the worker themselves.


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 http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?index=0&did=2330329231&SrchMode=1&sid=1&Fmt=6&VInst=PROD&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1312294460&clientId=29440, Industry. Journal of Business Ethics, 99(4), 483-517. Retrieved August 2, 2011, from ABI/INFORM Global.

http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=1602917561&sid=2&Fmt=3&clientId=29440&RQT=309&VName=PQD, The Asian Wall Street Journal, of Melamine and Lead, Anonymous. The Wall Street Journal Asia. Hong Kong: Nov 28, 2008. pg. 12





http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=1981327401&sid=2&Fmt=3&clientId=29440&RQT=309&VName=PQD, China jewelry makers say toxic metal cuts costs, Alexa Olesen. The Hutchinson News. Hutchinson, Kan: Jan 13, 2010.

http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=1613287531&sid=2&Fmt=3&clientId=29440&RQT=309&VName=PQD, Chinese toy factories take hit; Signs of sharp economic slowdown everywhere James Pomfret. The Province. Vancouver, B.C.: Dec 14, 2008. pg. A.46

http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=1619392241&sid=2&Fmt=3&clientId=29440&RQT=309&VName=PQD , AsiaInspection: Toys safety: an expert of Made in China quality shares his opinion a few days before Christmas, Anonymous. M2 Presswire. Coventry, Dec 30, 2008.

http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=1602917561&sid=2&Fmt=3&clientId=29440&RQT=309&VName=PQD, The Asian Wall Street Journal, of Melamine and Lead, Anonymous. The Wall Street Journal Asia. Hong Kong: Nov 28, 2008. pg. 12

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