The holiday season gave media and industry one more opportunity to discuss Mattel’s massive product recalls this year, and admittedly, I still find myself interested in the story. In this case, it was the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s article calling out Mattel’s “Epiphany at Christmas”. 

The revelation: “If it’s got your company’s name on it, it’s your problem.”

At least, that’s according to the expert interviewed about taking responsibility when things go poorly.  In reality however, Mattel has received praise in the past for its responsible supply chain management — this is not an epiphany. 

Still, the company is taking steps to demonstrate its ongoing commitment with a new quality checking system and a responsibility organization to oversee product quality, labor standards, and sustainability…moves that CEO Robert Eckert calls “evolutionary, not revolutionary.”

But the lesson is a good one. It’s not just about managing outsourcers… it’s making sure they manage their outsourcers, and so on down the complex chain.  Whether it’s product safety, social responsibility, or information security issues, supply chain management is getting more in-depth, and necessarily so, as the number and potential imapct of risks increase.  For more on risk management with supply chain partners, check out Best Practices: Successfully Managing Security And Risk In A Global Supply Chain.