At T-Mobile, Your Fight Is Our Fight

By Jen Palmer, Pride & Allies Network Chair; Danielle Ogieguata, Multicultural Network Co-Chair; and Jerry Williams, Multicultural Network Co-Chair
Jun 18, 2020 11:50 AM ET
Blog

For Team Magenta, June is usually a month of rainbows.

It’s Pride month, and any other year at T-Mobile, our teams would be right in the middle of organizing parade attendance — scheduling, arranging transportation, and making sure employees are equipped with magenta and rainbow flags, fans, t-shirts, tutus, cowbells and more to celebrate. We’d have thousands of our employees make a strong showing at Pride celebrations across the country.

Our Pride plans at T-Mobile this June were already under revision, given the shift in parade schedules to allow for physical distancing and personal safety. Naturally, our employees have demanded a second revision to how our company looks at Pride this year, to prioritize the moment that is happening now.

To understand our shift for T-Mobile, we want to first acknowledge the history of Pride, which originated with celebrations one year after the Stonewall Riots took place in 1969. While the Stonewall Riots were a catalyst for bringing forth Pride celebrations the following year, it was the timing of the movement against a backdrop of civil rights advocacy — the second wave of the women’s rights movement, the rise of counterculture and anti-war sentiment, as well as the group of diverse people involved speaking up for the battle they want to fight — that made the movement possible.

Many in the crowd at Stonewall the night the raid took place, and in the protests following, were young, drag kings and queens, trans and Black or of color — and many credit transgender activist Marsha P. Johnson and drag king Storme DeLarvarie for sparking the demonstrations. It was the Black community that stood up and decided that the battle for LGBTQ+ equality was what needed to happen at that moment.

Right now, 50 years after the first Pride march, we’ve experienced a similar story of intersectionality at T-Mobile, aligned with many others around the country. The rainbow banners of Pride will be raised in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Our employees, specifically our LGBTQ+ and Black employees, have been clear on what they want to see. The conclusion is one that we saw back in 1969:

Your Fight Is Our Fight

From the beginning, T-Mobile has embraced employees as a valued resource to inform the business on how to act. We are thankful that we not only have a diverse employee base, but that our culture of inclusivity allows all of us to speak up, be heard and take action. Pride participation at T-Mobile began much like it did for the world — as a grassroots movement that laid the groundwork for an influential, company-wide commitment.

Back in 2013, some 30 employees from our two call centers in Albuquerque took it upon themselves to represent T-Mobile in their local Pride parade. The following year, the news of these employees spearheading this participation traveled north to the company’s headquarters, where their enthusiasm inspired another hundred employees to not only march in, but also sponsor the Seattle Pride parade.

The team has added cities and parades since, leading up to last year’s World Pride Parade in New York City — the biggest on Earth — where hundreds of us marched alongside a giant float at the head of the parade and T-Mobile was the sole presenting sponsor. The massive support for Pride turned into a company stance — with T-Mobile publicly supporting initiatives like the the LGBTQ+ Equality Act, signing an Amicus Brief last summer on the Supreme Court Case on LGBTQ+ workers — which finally passed just this week.

This snowball effect started with our employees, who demanded we do more from the business, and made it happen. Which is a similar spirit that we are seeing now with social justice campaigns happening in the world in this very moment — originating as a grassroots movement.

As such, our support is rooted in our core belief that the best workplace welcomes everyone for exactly who they are. Yes, Pride month this year looks different not just because of the pandemic — but because we’re also witnessing American history in real-time. And this year, by re-evaluating our Pride participation and once again listening to our employees, their desires and needs, we were able to see a much-needed and overdue correction for historical injustice in this country.

Today’s movement for racial equality is overdue. Fifty years ago, the civil rights movement and the LGBTQ+ activism galvanized during the Stonewall Riots existed side-by-side. This year at T-Mobile, we will take up renewed racial justice efforts as our very recognition of Pride.

Over 39% (and growing) of T-Mobile employees are part of our six diversity and inclusion employee resource groups, and these team members at every level and from every corner of our company set the agenda for Pride. This year it is abundantly clear that our Pride belongs to our Black colleagues and the Black community, and we’ll stand together to fight for overdue racial equality.

While you won’t see extra magenta in on the streets of Pride parades this June, our Pride and Allies Network and Multicultural Network Employee Resource Groups have come together to advise on ways we can prioritize racial justice this month. For instance, on social media, we’re suggesting that the brand and employees alike focus on amplifying Black voices. Internally, we are encouraging strong and healthy conversations, both in large meetings and small groups — to hear feedback from Black employees on what more we can all do.

We’re not coming together just to celebrate Pride — we’re coming together as Black colleagues and LGBTQ+ colleagues and allies, because we believe in the visibility and value of all of our teammates. We will listen to each other and teach each other, because each of us has a part to play in making T-Mobile a better company and making America a better country.

Black Lives Matter. Your Fight Is Our Fight.