In 2021, T-Mobile Stories introduced you to Joe Richards, the employee and artist behind a companywide community photo project entitled “Proud to Be,” which invited employees to visually showcase who they are and how they are embracing that identity during Pride Month.
In a video interview, Joe explained why he first created the participatory photo project six years ago at the Charleston Customer Experience Center where he was a Customer Resolution Expert, and served as the lead for the company’s Pride Employee Resource Group in the local Diversity, Equity & Inclusion chapter. While Pride season offers members of the LGBTQ+ community a moment to advocate and celebrate their identities together, Joe told us he was inspired by T-Mobile’s year-round “Be You” motto to search for a way to open up Pride — and the experience of being “seen” — to everyone. (The company is also embracing the motto “Stronger Together” for this Pride Month, a perfect accompaniment to Joe’s ongoing “Proud to Be” project.)
Joe Richards, Mobile Expert and creator of "proud to Be"
I’m proud to be a storyteller giving a voice to the voiceless and shedding light on the stories of people across this company.
With the simple directive to employees to write down what they’re proud to be on a chalkboard, Joe captured dozens of inspiring photographs of smiling sign-bearers and built an art installation to display them in the call center. T-Mobile supported Joe’s vision and two years ago helped him bring the project to a companywide scale by offering an internal virtual platform for employees all around the country to upload their “Proud to Be” images. From humble beginnings, with 44 people participating that first year, the project saw more than 200 people participate by 2020. Now a Mobile Expert in Charleston, Joe says watching his art evolve and take space alongside T-Mobile’s own growth these last few years has been incredible.
Here we will share even more of what T-Mobile employees are saying this year as they participate in the 2023 installation of the art project, by showcasing new images and video of the many who are submitting their “Proud to Be” statements throughout the month.
P.S. If you watched the video above, you know the first day of Pride Month is also Joe’s birthday! Happy Birthday, Joe!
Check back every week throughout June to see new and updated images and videos from those who have submitted their own “Proud to Be” moments. Any questions? Email us at: Stories-Tools@T-Mobile.com
Where It All Started
T-Mobile employees at the North Charleston, South Carolina Customer Experience Center, where the community photo project originated, continue to show us why they're Proud to Be!
Shawn South, Closed Loop Specialist, North Charleston, SC
Since the very first "Proud To Be" photoshoot Joe Richards did here, every single year everyone gets excited to come and share what they are proud to be as well as some of their new accomplishments and achievements. It was a true honor to help out my peers and make sure we continue the tradition!
Journey to James
James Dreiling, Customer Experience Manager, Bellevue, WA
I am a proud Transman and Parent. I began my 'Journey to James' with some of the most supportive and truly life changing people that allowed me to feel safe and strong enough to be my authentic self. I have been living as James at T-Mobile for a year as of May 31st, and the opportunities that have happened since allowing myself to live authentically have been immeasurable.
Meet More of T-Mobile's "Proud to Be" Employees
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See Who Else Is "Proud To Be" at T-Mobile
David Werblow, VP, Legal Affairs and Chief Compliance Officer
I am proud to be an out gay man for 30 years! I am proud to work for a company that welcomes, celebrates and champions diversity.