In March of 2020, we were, without fully grasping it yet, on the precipice of massive changes in our day-to-day lives. Like so many, I remember asking our Seattle-based staff not to come into the office one day, thinking it would only be for a couple of weeks.
In that moment, we could have approached the unknown led by the debilitating fear spreading through our bodies, but instead we reached for an antidote to fear—we embraced care. While the pandemic has been indescribably horrific in so many ways, we have grounded our response in our belief in leading with our full humanity. We keep coming back to our organizational value of collective care as the foundational and defining characteristic of our culture as an organization.
Care at work is about creating a space where we see, hear, and acknowledge one another in our full humanity. Capitalism and white professionalism tell us that the only thing that matters at work is what we produce—and that we can get our other needs met at home. We see this approach to work as dehumanizing, and a recipe for burnout and exploitation. We chose to disrupt this grind culture, and instead value rest, restoration, and sustainable pacing.
We knew from emerging research that 4-day workweeks work for many organizations and companies. People with 4-day workweeks report feeling happier, less stressed, and more balanced. Organizations and companies with 4-day workweeks have an easier time attracting and retaining staff. In reviewing all of this research, it quickly became clear that if we wanted to make a marked difference in the lives of our staff and their ability to see and feel true care at Pride Foundation, 4-day workweeks was one key practice we could adopt.
However, we knew that if we only changed how much we work, but didn’t acknowledge how we work, this schedule and the care we prioritize wouldn’t actually work in practice. Along with this schedule shift, we made systemic and structural changes to how we work together, how we communicate, how we meet, and the project management tools we use. We are still very much in practice of making this relatively massive shift in our work culture. It takes learning new approaches to work, and unlearning old practices that, unfortunately, too many of us have had to use at work for most of our lives.
Pride Foundation staff have been working 4-day weeks since March of 2020, and it is now a permanent practice at our organization. We are not the first organization to prioritize care for our staff and move to a 4-day workweek—and we hope to be far from the last. We were inspired by the practices embraced by the Women’s Foundation of California, Third Wave Fund, and Trans Justice Funding Project, and we encourage you to learn more about and support the work of other local organizations who have also adopted these practices recently, like our friends at Seeding Justice and Social Justice Fund NW.
Our communities have cared for one another for decades, and that care at Pride Foundation has only deepened as a result of the pandemic. As an organization and as a community, we know this care will only continue to strengthen—but only if we prioritize it, nurture it, and practice it daily.
Katie Carter is Pride Foundation CEO.