File picture: Isaac Kasamani

London - Respecting gay and lesbian rights is good for business and helps drive economic growth, a group of 14 leading Western companies including Google, American Express and McKinsey&Company said on Tuesday.

The companies said supporting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights around the world helped drive economic development and allowed such companies to attract and retain the smartest employees.

“If countries and cities want to have economic development, they have to rise to a level of tolerance that enables them to have the kind of diverse dialogue that creates innovation,” Claudia Brind-Woody, managing director for Global Intellectual Property Licensing at IBM, said in a statement.

The other companies which supported the report were AT&T , Brunswick, EY, IBM, LinkedIn, law firm Linklaters, MasterCard, Royal Bank of Scotland, Standard Chartered, Thomson Reuters and Virgin Group.