top of page

How Mattel Combats Bias: Removing Subjectivity, Embracing Objectivity

Maintaining pay equity is an ongoing challenge, even for companies committed to fair compensation practices. Unconscious biases can seep into hiring, promotion, and pay decisions, re-introducing inequalities that pay equity initiatives aimed to resolve. At Mattel, the iconic toy company behind Barbie, leaders took an innovative approach to remove subjectivity and prevent bias from undermining their pay equity goals.

Even in companies with a strong focus on pay equity, new hires as well as promotion and pay increase cycles can present challenges to meeting and maintaining pay equity goals. For example, the subjective opinions and unconscious biases of managers can inadvertently recreate inequalities that were previously remedied through pay audits. To avoid these types of issues, Mattel, the maker of Barbie dolls, takes an innovative approach with pay, emphasizing objectivity rather than subjectivity. 

In an effort to avoid subjective bias, the company made the bold decision to link employee pay increases to objective measures, such as market demand and employee performance, rather than allowing individual managers to exercise their own discretion with these actions. “Our pay philosophy is rooted in Pay for Performance,” said Ignacio Cavazos, Senior Director of Global Compensation, “We firmly believe that pay should be tied to objective metrics so we’ve taken active steps through our program tools and communications to remove subjectivity from how we evaluate performance, and that really resonates with employees and leaders.


With this philosophy, pay increase decisions are data-driven and based on market demand for roles, internal pay equity, and other objective factors, such as experience, education, and attaining pre-established performance targets. "Is it perfect?” says Cavazos, "I think very few things in life relating to humans are perfect, but we are confident it’s objective and consistent.

bottom of page