Our success as a company is founded on our values, our rigorous governance practices and transparency in all our business dealings.
We are committed to maintaining strong corporate governance practices and ethical behaviour throughout the organization, focusing on disciplined risk management, and following disclosure practices that are both responsive and responsible.
Ethics, integrity and corporate governance
We believe that our ability to build and preserve trust with our stakeholders is based on consistently applying strong corporate governance and the highest ethical practices in all of our activities and interactions.
Throughout 2016, we continued to uphold stringent corporate governance practices. We focused on the healthy renewal of our Board of Directors, with 3 new members joining in early 2017. Reflecting a strong commitment to gender diversity on the board, 33% of our board members were female as of December 31, 2016. This is above our internal target of 30%.
Again in 2016, Sun Life ranked in the top 10 in The Globe and Mail Report on Business' Board Games review of corporate governance practices of Canada's largest companies. Sun Life was also named one of 12 Canadian companies, and the only North American life insurer, in the Standard & Poor’s Long-Term Value Creation Global Index, based on sustainability criteria and financial quality.
As a large financial services organization operating in a complex industry, effective risk management is critical to the overall profitability, competitive market positioning and long-term financial viability of the Company.
In 2016, we updated our risk management framework to explicitly include a risk culture statement and risk culture elements. Risk culture relates to how we behave and respond, in addition to the requirements we set. It enables and rewards taking the right risks in an informed manner, including an understanding of Client needs and preferences.
We continue to reinforce and embed a risk culture through Employee communication, training and performance reviews and by clearly defining roles, responsibilities and expectations in our risk management policies.
Effectively managing environmental risks, including those related to climate change, is important for the long-term sustainability of the Company, and we consider these as part of our risk management practices. We maintain an environmental risk management program to help protect investment assets (primarily real estate, mortgage and certain private fixed income assets) from losses due to environmental issues and to help ensure compliance with applicable laws.
Transparency and disclosure
Our stakeholders expect us to be transparent about how we manage our business, our profitability and the impacts of our operations. The successful delivery of financial services also depends on open, trusted relationships with Clients and policyholders, business partners, shareholders and regulators.
A key focus for enhanced transparency and disclosure in 2016 has been on improving the content and quality of our sustainability reporting.