What is sustainability?

At Sun Life, sustainability is defined as taking accountability for our environmental, social and governance practices in ways that deliver value to our customers, employees, shareholders, and communities. Our focus on sustainability reflects the long-term nature of commitments we make to our customers, strengthens the company, and positions future generations to meet their needs.

Who is responsible for sustainability?

Phillip Gillin “Over the last 3 years, it has been my privilege to chair the International Sustainability Council (ISC) at Sun Life. While sustainability began with small incremental goals, it has quickly evolved into bigger and more impactful initiatives, which have shaped our strategy, and, along with that, have developed a growing sense of pride throughout our company. Each year, we continue to win awards and join rankings that show our commitment is entrenched. And as we move into 2014, the ISC will be focused on bringing a sustainability-focused framework to even more areas of our business, so that over time we build this thinking into all our processes and decision-making.”
- Philip Gillin, Senior Managing Director and Portfolio Manager, Canadian Property Investments and Chair of the ISC

Governance, Nomination and Investment Committee

The Governance, Nomination and Investment Committee is a Board committee responsible for developing effective corporate governance guidelines and processes, developing processes to assess the effectiveness of the Board of Directors and its Committees and the contributions of individual directors, identifying individuals with the competencies, skills and qualities to best complement the current Board composition, recommending nominees for election as directors, overseeing investment policies, practices, procedures and controls related to the management of the general fund investment portfolio, and approving and monitoring the annual Investment Plan.

Beginning in 2013, sustainability mandates have been added to the overall responsibilities of the Committee; in which it is responsible in overseeing the Corporation’s sustainability program and initiatives and reviews the annual Sustainability Report. The Charter of the Governance, Nomination and Investment Committee can be found here.

International Sustainability Council

The International Sustainability Council (ISC) is composed of senior representatives from across the company. The ISC has been mandated to review our current practices, examine benchmarks, establish targets, identify opportunities, and recommend new policies and initiatives encompassing environmental, social and governance matters. The ISC meets monthly and reports progress to the Executive Team of Sun Life, which in turn reports to the Board.

What are the areas of focus?

Sun Life conducts a materiality review annually to determine the areas of sustainability that will be of focus. The review is based on stakeholder feedback, industry peer reviews, sustainability rankings, assessment agencies and internal reviews.

In deciding its focus on sustainability, Sun Life considers the interests of a number of key stakeholder groups including customers, employees, shareholders, debt-holders, regulators, rating agencies, and other capital market participants.


Sun Life develops and provides long-term financial products to customers. This means that we are in the business of making promises that will last decades into the future - promises we strive to keep by taking considered and effective steps now. We believe our financial performance and how we contribute to the world economy are important indicators of how sustainable we are. Examples of how we support the economy include:

  • Solid financial performance;
  • Strong risk management practices;
  • Sound investment approach Adobe PDF document;
  • Payments to government (taxes); and
  • Employing over 15,000 employees and more than 150,000 advisors.


We seek better ways to be more efficient in the way we occupy our premises and carry on our businesses. We do this not only by an ongoing process of improvement as a company, but also by engaging our employees to be proactive and creative in finding innovative and effective ways to respect and sustain the environment on which we and future generations depend. Here are some examples of how we take accountability for our environmental impact:

  • Tracking our Greenhouse Gas emissions Adobe PDF document;
  • Pursuing LEED® and BOMA BESt* designations in our buildings;
  • Investing in green and renewable energy projects Adobe PDF document;
  • Including climate change considerations in investment decisions;
  • Continuing to be a signatory and respondent to the Carbon Disclosure Project;
  • Participating as a member of The United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI);
  • Engaging in sustainability-related policy discussions; and
  • Sponsoring programs and organizations such as Sustainable Waterloo and Clean Air Commute.

® LEED is a registered trade-mark of the U.S. Green Building Council.
* BOMA BESt stands for Building Owners and Managers Association Building Environmental Standards.


We are aware of our continuing responsibilities in guiding our customers' financial futures. This is why we have developed processes that provide for proper governance throughout our organization. We demonstrate this commitment by having the following in place:

  • Provide regular reports to our Board;
  • Risk management and compliance;
  • A Code of Business Conduct Adobe PDF document that applies to all Sun Life employees, and all directors of Sun Life Financial Inc., its subsidiaries and joint venture companies other than those companies that have adopted a code of conduct consistent with the spirit of our code. 100% of our employees are trained in deterring fraud, combating money laundering and terrorist financing, avoiding conflicts of interest, and rejecting corruption and bribery; and
  • Our Global Privacy Commitment.


We believe that giving back to our communities, both as a company and through the actions of our employees, helps to build a better future for us all. We encourage our employees to be their best and to work together to create an environment committed to integrity and respect. We are also committed to using insights to develop new and better ways for customers to do business with us.

The following are some of the programs that support our social commitments:

  • Commitment to our Customers
  • Commitment to our Employees Adobe PDF document
    • Employee diversity programs;
    • Health and safety programs (training, accident/injury reporting); and
    • Skills development/employee advancement training programs.
  • Commitment to our Communities