LGB&T equality was on the agenda at this year's World Economic Forum meeting at Davos - for the first time. Here are the nine best quotes that came out of the discussions:
- "People used to be cannibals as part of their culture, people used to do terrible things as part of their culture." - Vice President Joe Biden, explaining why 'cultural differences' don't excuse discriminating against LGB&T people.
- "By putting LGBT issues at the forefront of the Davos agenda, we're sending a message that we're serious about tackling LGBT rights in the workplace." - WEF senior director Fon Mathuros, talking to BBC Capital.
- "In a number of countries, homosexual relationships and expression is still considered a crime, even punishable by death.... This is why the discussions on LGBT issues in Davos are so important."- Dan Bross, Senior Director of Corporate Citizenship at Microsoft.
- "My vision is to one day see a world where LGBT is no longer a category, a world where all sexual orientations are equal." - Inga Beale, CEO at Lloyd's of London, who spoke on a panel called 'Bridging the Diversity Divide'.
- "The economic case for LGBT equality worldwide, including in emerging economies, has been tested and proven." - Silvia Magnoni, Global Leadership Fellow at the World Economic Forum.
- "We need societies that recognise diversity as a source of strength." - Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a speech on Wednesday.
- "To innovate, and to do anything successfully in business, you need to have people of different backgrounds, and people who think differently when they are looking at the same situation you are, with a different set of eyes."- Shamina Singh, an Executive Director at MasterCard.
- "Multinational companies have enormous economies and employ millions of people, this gives them the ability to influence change on this issue in a unique and powerful way. If the private sector is leading inclusive cultures within the walls of their companies, they can lead the cultural change in society to create a more inclusive society." Beth Brooke-Marciniak, Global Vice Chair of Policy at EY, talking at a WEF Issue Briefing.
- "Collectively you can change the terms of the debate and shift public opinion." Vice President Joe Biden again, telling a group of executives they should be campaigning for global LGB&T rights - including Airbnb's Nathan Blecharczyk and Muhtar Kent from Coca-Cola.
This is a huge step forward for the global debate on LGB&T equality. Previously it's been seen as a human rights issue, and not relevant to business. But the debate has moved on: the political/corporate elites at Davos know that discriminating against LGB&T people is bad for business, and bad for economic growth.
This is no longer about a difference of opinions, it's about a solid economic and business case. Any sceptics out there should look at the report published last year by Open For Business, the coalition of global companies supporting LGB&T equality, including Accenture, AT&T, EY, Barclays, Google, Microsoft, Tesco and Virgin Group.