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While Mattel sells its flagship product, the Barbie doll, with strong feminist slogans, in the factories we investigated, women produce Barbie dolls in fear of being humiliated or harassed. The multinational company does not seem to be doing anything to stop the sexual harassment in its factories.

Mattel can take action against these abuses. Together, let's ask it to do so!


is the proportion of women, on average, in Chinese factories, recruited because they are considered to be more hard-working and docile than men. For economic and demographic reasons, the proportion of men on production lines has been increasing over the last ten years or so, which has greatly modified the work environment and made a taboo issue even more acute : the issue of sexist and sexual violence.


We have been condemning for 20 years the production conditions of toys sold by the giant Mattel. While the multinational company praises the emancipatory virtues of its Barbie dolls, our new survey in China reveals that female workers are working in a hostile climate that is conducive to sexual harassment.

Discover the complete results of the survey

Following our 2019 investigation which revealed the trivialization of humiliation and sexual harassment in the Foshan factory, Mattel simply announced that a two-day audit of the factory had concluded that there had been no "violation of the criteria for granting its label".

This summer, we decided to investigate again, in another Mattel factory in China, to get to the bottom of it.

A hostile work environment

Inappropriate remarks about looks, sexual comments, touching, diffusion of degrading photos on the WeChat discussion group, theoretically intended to exchange information on work schedules or production objectives...

These events, which are taking place before the eyes of the team leaders, do not seem to provoke any reaction from management. The female workers who are victims of these events do not dare to complain, particularly for fear of losing their jobs.    

This constitutes sexual harassment. They establish a hostile work environment, which our witness clearly felt during her few weeks of work in the factory.

The female workers fear sexual assault and feel unprotected.

"A colleague is harassing me in the workshop.
He calls me darling, sits at my workstation and when I complain, says all I have to do is sit on his lap. He explained to the others that he did this to get me excited. I blocked him on Wechat [Chinese equivalent of Whatsapp] and he threatened to hit me if I didn't unblock it. I'm scared. No one is reacting."  

A worker interviewed during the investigation

Mattel's responsibility

Gender-based and sexual violence in the workplace is often downplayed by companies as not being their responsibility. However, there are many workplace factors that can contribute to or aggravate gender-based and sexual violence in the workplace.

Among these factors, the most common are: constant pressure to meet production targets, the unequal distribution of men and women in teams, or the permissive attitude of managers with little training and little encouragement to punish abuses.

Mattel has the means to intervene to end the climate of impunity and must set an example. It is up to us to remind them of this!

4 out of 10

is the number of female workers who reported situations that could be classified as sexual harassment during our survey in 2019

By signing this call
you address the director of Mattel France

as well as the CEO of Mattel and the Vice President in charge of supply chain governance.

You are asking them to take swift action to assess the risks, sanction violence and protect victims in Mattel's owned factories and at its suppliers' sites.


Letter of petition

Mail to the attention of :

  • Mr. Christophe Salmon, Managing Director of Mattel France
  • Mr. Ynon Kreiz, Chief Executive Officer of Mattel
  • Ms. Edena Low, Mattel's Vice President in charge of Supply Chain Governance and Risk Management

Madam, Sir,

Already last year, ActionAid France and China Labor Watch alerted you about sexual harassment at a Mattel factory in China.  Your company does not seem to have intervened to prevent the recurrence of such situations, and sexual harassment-like incidents were observed again in another factory this year.

Shocked by this situation, I urge you to intervene to put an end to this situation, by :

  •     taking stock of sexual harassment in the factories and throughout the Mattel Group's supply chain;
  •     publishing the methodology of the survey, its results and the corrective measures taken by Mattel;
  •     guaranteeing victims of sexual harassment or other gender-based violence specific social rights, legal, psychological and financial support if necessary;
  •     firmly prohibiting such behaviour with a clear definition of sexual harassment, an easy-to-understand complaint procedure and disciplinary sanctions against those guilty of such abuse;
  •     imposing and fully funding complaints mechanisms and solutions accessible to all, which guarantee the anonymity of complainants, protect them from retaliation and provide for disciplinary sanctions up to the dismissal of the perpetrators.

Looking forward to hearing what measures you will take against gender-based and sexual violence, you have the assurance of my full consideration.

Sexual harassment

is a violation of human rights, described and denounced as early as 1958 by Convention No. 111 of the International Labour Organisation. It encompasses a series of behaviours and practices that are often persistent and "normalized" although unwanted: sexual remarks or advances, obscene jokes and remarks, display of photos or images objectifying women, forced physical contact or sexual assault.