Ethical dilemma refers to a state in which an individual exhibits difficulty in selecting the best alternative in a situation where each individual choice has its ethical implication, either to the individual or to the organization and the entire society at large.  Strategic and the right decision is thus crucial in such situations.  In an organization setting, a poor resolution to ethical dilemmas may lead to inadequacy of professional integrity and unjust behaviors manifested in the working sectors, thereby raising various social, legal and professional issues. The Iron Lady is a biographical film that is based on Margret Thatcher’s (Meryl Streep in the film) life history, who also happened to be the longest service prime minister in the U.K.  The film presents various ethical aspects and implications as well. Ethics and professional standards are a major prerequisite in the coexistence of the people in different working environments. In order to regulate and maintain the rights and privileges of workers, ethical codes are normally formed with an aim of controlling and securing respect and integrity. However, these rights and reputations can sometimes be violated by a number of workers due to various reasons; amongst them are the exploitations following the possession of higher authority and power.

Ethical Dilemma

The core ethical dilemma portrayed in the Iron Lady clearly presents itself towards the end of the film and emanates from Meryl Streep’s interaction with her subordinates. From the movie, Streep is preoccupied with power and is torn between exercising strict authority over the subordinates and remaining a “powerful” and key figure, or collaborating with them and taking note of their advisories, an approach that she seemingly felt would make her“weak.” In the end, Streep, got overwhelmed by power and engaged in unethical practices that thwart a conducting working environment for the subordinate staff

In the film, Iron Lady, the prime minister is seen to be involved in power abuse from the way she handles her subordinates. Most of her decisions were final in majority of the cabinet meetings held. She was too “bossy” to a point that she dismissed one of the government employees. On another occasion, in a meeting that was scheduled to take stand amongst various cabinet members pertaining a number of issues in the states; after an open member discussion, as usual, she did not approve of some prepositions just because she didn’t agree with them personally. Streep even went to the extent of snatching one of the cabinets’ documents and thereafter adjourning the meeting. This behavior is contrary to the norms and values that promote workplace coherence and are likewise in conflict with the accepted morals moral principles

As the film progresses, the power cling seems to get out of hands by the way she exercised and handled her subordinates. Socially, this greatly impacted her relationships with the fellow members of the cabinets. As the just elected Prime Minister of British, she was expected to exercise some of the professional antics in her ruling both at personal levels and others. She, however, had minimum relations with the other ministers in the House of Common following how she handed and related with individuals. To add up, in governance, there are those legal requisites expected from a powerful and authoritative leader.

Describe the Social, Legal, Ethical and/or Professional Issues Raised


Respecting individuals is an ethical value that is regarded essential in a professional institution which upholds the equality and worthwhile of people especially workers by respecting and identifying their rights. It requires a self-determination of workers by their superior individuals and managers and does not approve of any mistreats and demean by the higher authorities. Worker’s rights and privileges are highly considered in order to ensure their dignity and integrity and most importantly identifying on what generally might foster their inherently independent wellbeing. The film, however, conflicts with this provision and fails to recognize the independence of mainly the working people in the offices. In one of her meetings with the cabinet members, she called off the meeting after a section of the cabinet appeared to differ with her. In addition, she allegedly accused her assistant of drafting the timetable against her preferences. This was considered an absolute use of power and a disregard for the other team members. She didn’t cooperate with them to solve specific matters which in turn she single-handedly exercised. She was singled out mainly due to her gender status in the House and major cabinet meeting held. She stood out mostly determined to improve this state of the affair from the way she expressed herself and the positions she granted most of the women. ‘‘Gentlemen, let us follow the ladies’’; this was her everyday speech she delivered while addressing a mass or a congregation of the cabinet members This was considered unethical and unprofessional as a leader towards her juniors. They lack self-esteem in themselves and later became arrogant and eventually leading to her downfall in the ruling behavior since power corrupts but absolute power corrupts absolutely (Lewis, 2000 & Blaug, 2010)


Professional integrity in an institution apt for an effective and efficient organization in both the managerial staffs and the social workers. Ethically, individual’s integrity should be upheld to create accepted morals and expectations in that place. It enables the close check of power since higher authorities are mandated to exercise ethical decisions and partly engage in those processes that generate adequate skills needed in management. Higher authorities are expected to practice ethical professional conducts in relations to their fields of power executions. In the film, there is this dilemma in the code of conduct especially integrity of the Prime Minister; Even though with power and the command authority, her quests seems to get off limits since she was hungered by her cynic attitude about inequality in the gender affairs and cowardice since most of the cabinet members were composed mainly of men who she constantly berated. One is expected to promote teamwork by empowering individual and making considered professional judgments. There should be an apt to uphold and maintain the reputation of the other subordinate staff present in the organization and ruling process. These were seen to be on the contrary to our esteem Prime minister who not only acted in demeaning the capabilities of other cabinet members but also contradicted and violated them. Legal and moral violation of ethics in a governing authority is definitely a show of diversity and lack of team building, a factor which creates poor governance and lack of attention from the people (Roberts, 2012)


Social justice is a prerequisite for any communal existence. Members should adhere to rules and moral behaviours that tend to regulate to uphold justice especially linked to professional duties. This code of ethic tends to lean on the rules and regulations governing the coexistence of social workers in such institutions. It is linked to the fostering of justice and fairness in regards to an individuals performance and responsibilities. This is achieved by the creation of legal structures that executes the equality and eliminates those causes of human rights and freedom violation. Thus, social workers will be more likely to develop and devise even better ways to ensure just conducts. Furthermore, she closely showed the strength and capabilities a lady can do from how she was managing her husband and the twin children. She upheld and promoted women dignity and liberated them from what she repeatedly termed as the ‘‘housewifery’’ to the majority of the men. However, her tenure was adversely affected by the cynic belief of her trusting on the alleged superiority of men amongst women. This affected her relations with the other ministers and lowered her respect unto them. Since she always felt insecure and had an urge to be recognized among the majority of the cabinet members. A number of individuals were subjected to being disregarded by her speeches and actions which were highly considered unethical and morally prude. This was due to an absence of professional boundary an ethical value that is required to make accountable judgments (Roberts, 2012)

Intervention Plan


Based on the Australian Association of Social Workers 2010, section 5.1.1, social workers are generally expected to have respect for human dignity and worth. Specifically,  they are required to respect other people’s “beliefs, religious or spiritual worldviews, values, culture, goals, needs, and desires, as well as kinship and communal bonds,…” this guideline clearly shows that  with reference to the  AASW,  Streep’s conduct contravened ethical  practices expected of a leader. An intervention plan that would assist in the ruling and promote both social and legal ethics thereby creating a good relationship with the others especially those in the same institution would entail following  the AASW guidelines keenly such as  integrity, respect and  valuing other people, their knowledge and perceptions as well

. Respect and upholding individual rights and freedom is also fundamental promulgation in an ethical setting.  Social workers will be more likely to work under environments that keenly observe and respect the values of individual efforts in such areas. Moreover, adequate and professional judgments would be essential for the maintenance and sustenance of reaccepted ethical standards within the working environment. This can be achieved by creating systems and structures which would otherwise increase the chances of equality in both social, legal and professional ethics and values. Leaders should not abuse their power and authority to exercise the rule in various institutions since the abuse of power by the superiors normally has an adverse effect on their relationships with their juniors (Spinelli, 1998). They ought to respect the abilities of the other members in terms of what their ends proved and did what would have been considered best in the management and governance generally. In addition, there should be set rules and regulations controlling the code of ethics and who to report to in case of an ethical dilemma.


Reference List (2016). Ethics & standards publications – AASW – Australian Association of Social Workers. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 6 May 2016].

Freegard, H., & Isted, L. (2012). Ethical practice for health professionals (2nd Ed.). Melbourne, Australia: Thompson Learning.

Roberts, L. W. (2012). Ethics Commentary: Ethical use of power in high-risk situations. FOCUS: The Journal of Lifelong Learning in Psychiatry, 10(2), 180–185

Spinelli, E. D. (1998). Counseling and the abuse of power. Counseling, 9(3), 181–184.

Sutherland, O. (2007). Therapist positioning and power in discursive therapies: A comparative analysis. Contemporary Family Therapy, 29(4), 193–209

The Iron Lady. United Kingdom: Pathé, Film4 Productions, UK Film Council, Yuk Films, Canal+, CinéCinéma, Goldcrest Films, 2011. Film.

Yahav, R., & Oz, S. (2006). The relevance of psychodynamic psychotherapy to understanding therapist-patient sexual abuse and treatment of survivors. Journal of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatry, 34(2), 303–331


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