LEGO is possibly one of the most common companies to be brought up in the topic of corporate social responsibility. It is easy to understand how this company can make such a large impact on society, being that they are one of the largest and most popular toy producers in the world.
How The LEGO Group demonstrate Corporate Social Responsibility
The importance of Corporate Social Responsibility is not lost on The LEGO Group, and they have made waves in recent years with their CSR dealing with the environment, sociocultural norms, their employees, and of course, the children for whom they produce their products. Most notably, LEGO has made promises to reduce its negative environmental impact, even to completely eradicate it. In 2018 LEGO launched plant-based polyethylene bricks to soon replace their standard plastic bricks. These bricks are sustainable and can considerably reduce non-environmentally friendly waste. LEGO also has tackled the inevitable waste problem by going above and beyond and planning to have absolutely no waste by 2025. Though this may seem an ambitious idea, the company has already recycled 93% of its waste in 2018. LEGO also claims that “100% of all plastic waste produced during the molding of LEGO bricks was recycled. This includes reusing some of the plastic resin in our own processes, as well as sending some of the waste to suppliers to be recycled and turned into other plastic products.” They have obviously have put much effort into recycling their waste, but they also are completely sustained by wind energy. This renewable energy is of course one of the most environmentally friendly energy sources and cuts down their carbon footprint incredibly.
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LEGO includes many promises of care for their employees in their company policies. They claim to prioritize safety, as well as survey their employees on their “motivation, satisfaction, and work-life balance” and then compare their findings to other companies to confirm they are in line with the most effective applications. In 2018, LEGO held a summer camp for children in China whose parents worked far away from home. This summer camp allowed the children to stay with their parents and play as a part of their family-friendly workplace. As most modern companies do, LEGO also has human rights and culture policies and guarantees of equal opportunity and inclusion in their company.
Finally, we come to the most important aspect if corporate social responsibility for LEGO: how they help the future generations of the world. This company puts on an event called Build the Change, in which children are encouraged to use their creativity to imagine a better society. This event has themes such as “build your future school, neighborhood, or city.” LEGO also gave schools in London “coding and robotics-based challenges” which has since caught on in China, Czech Republic, Hungary, Mexico, and the United States. They also encourage the education of children in the digital sense, such as safety online and how to be positive digital citizens.
The LEGO Group CSR vs their Competitors
I believe LEGO has taken social responsibility in the correct way. They seem to care and act on issues that they have a direct impact on. Being such a large producer of items made of plastic, which is very well known to have heavy negative consequences on the environment and making a difficult change in converting to sustainable products is inherently great for the entire world. Many companies make these socially responsible efforts in order to gain positive media, have a competitive advantage, and more profits, and perhaps that is part of LEGO’s goal, but I believe they are taking these steps because they know what kind of impact they have on society and the environment and they want to helpful to those factors rather than hurtful. LEGO has many competitors in their industry, but they seem to have the most detailed and dedicated corporate social responsibility policies than any of their competitors.
Bandai Namco is one of LEGO’s largest competitors and while they do have social responsibility statements, they have considerably much less than its leading competitor. Bandai Namco has only three corporate social responsibility initiatives: environmental and social responsibilities, economic responsibilities, and legal and ethical responsibilities. None of which have anything original that are not considered the basic responsibilities for most companies.
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Mattel on the other hand, has been working toward Sustainable Sourcing Principles for considerably longer than LEGO has. Mattel has gotten their packaging up to 93% of recycled paper and wood fibers. They also joined the Mekong Club to assist in eliminating modern slavery. Mattel also held a sort of summer camp in 2018 very similar to the one LEGO held that summer. This company also assists in providing healthcare to southwest Chinese citizens and trained healthcare professionals in the same area. It is safe to say Mattel may be a huge competitor in the CSR aspect for LEGO, but I do not believe it affects either of the companies in very big ways.
I do feel that LEGO is very dedicated to their social responsibility, almost on a personal level. To switch from producing primarily plastic products to producing sustainable plant-based products is indeed a difficult switch, and it would have most likely cost less to simply keep producing the same way. LEGO could probably participate none of their socially responsible efforts and still make considerable profits, but they choose to engage these policies anyway. LEGO has had its share of controversy in its 80-year span. In 2015, 380 workers were laid off in a Denmark factory.
And in 2012, LEGO launched Lego Friends, a play set specifically meant for girls to play with, and they were met with much backlash and a petition was even created stating “Tell LEGO to stop selling out girls!” In 2014, LEGO was the star of a Greenpeace campaign because they were endorsing Royal Dutch Shell. At the time, Shell was planning to extract oil from the Arctic. This might raise questions about how much LEGO really cares for the children they are marketing for and their futures. These concerns became important to global stakeholders. Though it seems the latter controversy may be one of the few that LEGO has been involved with that stakeholders may question their corporate social responsibility, LEGO has definitely come back in the more recent years and made big changes for the betterment of the entire world.
- “Responsibility.” Responsibility - About Us - LEGO.com US, https://www.lego.com/en-us/aboutus/responsibility/.
- “CSR Initiatives｜BANDAI NAMCO Holdings Inc.” BANDAI NAMCO Holdings Inc., https://www.bandainamco.co.jp/en/social/index.html.
- Schulz, MaryClaire. “An Analysis of LEGO's Response to an Attack on Its Partnership with Royal Dutch Shell.” Inquiries Journal, Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications, 1 Jan. 2016, http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/articles/1473/an-analysis-of-legos-response-to-an-attack-on-its-partnership-with-royal-dutch-shell.
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