People often approach the issue of gay rights (if one can even call it an issue) from the “doing the right thing” perspective, meaning that supporting the rights of homosexuals, bisexuals and transgender people is the right thing to do because everyone should be free to be who they are without facing discrimination of any kind.

This argument is, of course, extremely valid, but perhaps not the most effective when seeking the support of big businesses and financial institutions.

I recently interviewed Todd Sears, founder of Out on the Street, the first global LGBT leadership organization in the financial industry, and he told me that the ability to demonstrate that “diversity makes business sense” was at the heart of the success of his initiative.

“What we were able to do is reframe that conversation – there’s definitely a ‘right to do thing’ piece here… but there’s very much a business piece, and unlike a lot of other issues you can actually come at it from both sides,” Sears said.

Prior to founding Out Leadership, the umbrella organization which includes Out on the Street, Sears was a private banker at Merrill Lynch. There, he started the first team focused on LGBT financial planning and financial advising in the United States.