The Stonewall workplace conference, held yesterday, instructed employers to continue efforts with equality and combating discrimination through the economic downturn.

Speaker Margot James, the chairwoman of the Conservative party, said: “I believe that there’s a business case as well as a moral case for continuing the battle for greater equality in workplaces. The companies that stay loyal to that agenda will hang on to their quality workforces and their future.”

Her comments were echoed by Baroness Royall, the leader of the House of Lords, who said: “Stonewall argues in relation to the workplace that people perform better when they can be themselves and I agree with that. Equality is not only a right in itself, but it makes economic sense too.”

A Stonewall report, Peak Performance, released last year, laid out the business case for equality. The survey of lesbian and gay staff found that participants almost universally reported a positive link between an inclusive workplace climate and their own productivity and motivation.

“In the credit crunch, shrewd employers know it makes good business sense not to cut back on robust diversity initiatives,” said David Shields, Stonewall’s director of Workplace Programmes.