Christine Haskins, managing director with PGIM Real Estate Finance (PGIM REF), is continuing in the family occupation: her grandparents owned rental properties and her dad worked in construction. But her passions extend far beyond the office.
Haskins is an avid squash player and yogi, and she loves to read and to travel with her partner of more than 25 years. Though they met at work more than a quarter century ago, Haskins says that it took her many years before she felt comfortable being open about her sexual orientation in the office.
“As my career progressed, I came to realize that being more visible may in some small way help others,” she writes. “We all look for connections, ways to relate, commonalities between us. It’s true of all types of people – women, LGBT+ people, first generation college students, the list goes on. And just as much as LGBT+ people need to be able to see people like them succeeding, visible LGBT+ leaders also help non-LGBT+ people evolve their perceptions and views. The LGBT+ community is diverse, and being a visible member allows everyone to see that.”
Describe how and when you first knew you were LGBT+:
I suspected in high school but realized it in college.
Describe how you came out:
It was a gradual process, not one particular moment in time. While I never felt ashamed and was very comfortable and fluid in sexuality, I did not announce it.
I did not reveal my status early in my career in corporate America in 1980s for several reasons. One, because I wanted to be known first and foremost for my work/ contributions and not lead with “gay” as my defining characteristic. And secondly, I suspected that it might have an impact on my career.
I let a few close PGIM REF colleagues know early on and it just spread from there. Similarly, with my family, I did not have a formal conversation. But I’ve been with my partner for 25 years, so she just gradually became part of the family. It was an organic, natural process.
During my 20 years at Prudential, while I was not out to the entire organization or to customers, I was never concerned about my career, nor did I ever experience any discrimination. I felt nothing but support at PGIM REF and was always impressed with Prudential’s corporate leadership in diversity initiatives. I’m very proud to be part of such a progressive organization.
How has coming out and being LGBT+ at work influenced your leadership style?
Interestingly enough, there were some real surprises in terms of reactions when people have found out about my sexual orientation over the years. Some of the most conservative individuals completely embraced it. This taught me not to make assumptions.
As a leader I respect differences and seek out diverse opinions. We all find connections despite our differences and find ways to collaborate.
Who are your role models?
I have a ton of respect for those who paved the way by putting themselves out there, gay and straight…. People like Billie Jean King, Gloria Steinem, and Martin Luther King.
If you could have any job other than the one you have now, it would be:
A science or math teacher.
If I could tell someone who is graduating from college this year one thing I’ve learned, it would be:
You can learn something from absolutely everyone you meet, so open yourself up to it.
The best interview question I have ever heard is:
What question were you hoping I would not ask you, and which one do you wish I had asked?
My most important Ally:
My partner of 25 years. She supports but also pushes me.
This person is my LGBT+ hero because:
Billie Jean King, because she had tremendous courage and was a risk taker. She fought for equal pay for women, risked her own career, came out, and continues to give back.
My first job was:
Waiting tables, which is great experience. You deal with all kinds of people, and learn to juggle pressure, diplomacy, and hard work. I loved it.
The next big thing for the global LGBT+ community is:
Get beyond identity politics.
The next big step for me in my career could be:
Groom and mentor the next generation….give back.
If you were planning a dinner party and could invite 5 people from history who would they be and why?
Dorothy Parker, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, Winston Churchill and Socrates, some of the most fascinating, quick-witted and intellectually curious individuals ever. I wouldn’t get a word in.
My favorite vacation destination is:
Rome – it has history, food, culture, art, and coffee all wrapped up in one.
The three books I would take to a deserted island are:
To the Lighthouse, by Virginia Woolf
Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman
The Master and Margarita, by Mikhail Bulgakov