Sustainability stories

Making sustainable investing easier for group retirement Clients

Sun Life’s Group Retirement Services (GRS) launched its proprietary Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) evaluation framework for its core investment platform of 23 investment managers and over 140 investment options. This new framework will be instrumental in helping plan sponsors and members make informed decisions when it comes to sustainable investing. Sustainable investing is one of three core pillars of Sun Life’s new sustainability plan.

While a variety of ESG scoring providers are available, at both a fund and security level, no single provider covers all GRS investment platform options. In isolation, an ESG score for a fund can create confusion and lack relevance for Clients. GRS’ approach for Clients has two objectives:

  • Identify ESG leaders (managers and funds), in every major asset category offered on the GRS core investment platform using proprietary criteria, and
  • Make it easy for plan sponsors to understand the level of ESG integration for the investment options they offer in their retirement savings plans.

The new evaluation framework is an expansion of the strong governance process GRS has in place today for its investment platform. Having a resilient and sustainable workplace plan is more important than ever. This added guidance will help Clients make more informed decisions about the investment choices in their savings plans.

Read the press release

Equal pay – A guiding principle 

Achieving gender parity is an important part of being a truly inclusive and equitable organization. One of Sun Life’s five guiding principles for compensation is to support fairness for all employees and reward top performance. We’re committed to ensuring managers make unbiased, performance-driven pay decisions and regularly review pay by gender.

In 2020, we expanded our analysis of total average pay by gender for roles within the same levels to include U.S. as well as Canadian employees.  

In Canada, the results from the previous year were sustained (women earn 98-99 cents for every $1 earned by men), except at the executive level, where the gap increased to 5 cents. This gap was driven by a change in population – the departure of some lower-paid men and the promotion of women, with corresponding “developing” pay packages. 

In the U.S., our analysis showed women earn between 95 and 97 cents for every $1 earned by men depending on level. Demographic factors such as geographic location contribute to these differences as the cost of talent varies across the U.S. 

To monitor and address even small pay gaps, every year we review by gender:

  • base salary increases
  • individual performance incentive awards 
  • long-term incentive grants

We found no systemic gender bias in the proportion of women and men who received annual and long-term incentives, or in the performance-based values of those incentives.

As data becomes available, we are expanding this pay analyses for other diverse groups.

We continue to heighten awareness of potential pay gaps through a tool that shows managers and HR how annual pay decisions (i.e., performance distribution, salary adjustments, annual incentive awards and long-term incentive grants) compare across women and men, as well as other diverse groups.

Average total compensation for women as a percentage of men1







Management – Seasoned Professional



Professional, Administrative and Operational 



Calculated for full-time employees only, excluding those participating in specialized incentive plans; includes base salary, annual incentives and long-term incentive grants.