SHOULD men and women each have their own handbooks as they navigate the modern the workplace?

The authors of two recent books say they work together as guides for well-intentioned people who want to see equality at work.

Bournemouth-based Diana Parkes published Understand Dare Thrive: How To Have Your Best Career from Today, as a guide for women, with a second edition launched to mark International Women’s Day on March 8.

Bishops Waltham-based Gary Ford, who spent 15 years in the Bournemouth offices of JP Morgan, is among the three authors of The Accidental Sexist: A Handbook for Men on Workplace Diversity and Inclusion. He said of the book: “It’s predominantly aimed at male managers. People that are in some position of authority usually have the most opportunity to reset the culture.”

The book deals in part with setting up male ally programmes, drawing on his experience of co-founding such a programme for JP Morgan, leading it in Bournemouth, and seeing it adopted company-wide.

“The answer to the question ‘How do I act differently and make a difference?’ is absolutely the holy grail,” said Mr Ford.

“How do you stand up for women who are not being heard or valued?”

Diana Parkes’s book shares strategies for success, based on hundreds of hours of interviews with women in business and years of research.

She says leaders are often unaware of how women in their organisations are undervalued and that their contributions go unrecognised.

“The things that are happening often are not big massive things. They’re very small things that just constantly happen that people don’t see. Women often don’t see it either because they get so used to it they get accustomed to these things happening.”

She added: “I often hear people say to me ‘We don’t have that problem here, I’d know if we did’.

“When you talk about these micro-inequities, they’re very hard to see and hard to articulate.”

Mr Ford added: “This isn’t a ‘men bad, women good’ type conversation. You can easily fall into that trap but it’s not easy. If it was easy we would have solved this generations ago.”

But he said efforts to ensure a more equal workplace affect the bottom line as well as being the right thing to do.

“There’s a clear business impact. There are mountains of studies showing a really clear relationship between the happiness of staff and business performance,” he said.

“You’re working for a third of your life. Why would you want to do that in a place where you’re not valued and not happy?”