Trusted and responsible business

We aspire to be a responsibly-managed business that is Client-focused, competitive, forward-thinking, financially and environmentally resilient, and sustainable for the long term.

Operating ethically, treating our Clients and employees with utmost respect, and reducing our impact on the environment are all vital components of maintaining the longevity and resiliency of our business.

Priority Sustainable Development Goals: #5 Gender Equality and #13 Climate Change.

2020 highlights

  • 34% women in Vice-President roles and above globally (target 50% by 2025)
    15% underrepresented ethnicities in Vice-President roles and above in North America (target 25% by 2025)
    36% women on our Board of Directors 

  • Achieved GHG emissions intensity reduction target of 20% by 2020 in 2019;
    on track to meet 30% by 2030 target

  • Increased transparency on climate change management by publishing our first TCFD-aligned disclosures in Sun Life’s 2020 Annual Report

  • Enhanced the way we conduct privacy impact assessments for new business initiatives, including providing guidance around ethical considerations 

  • 89% global employee engagement score

  • Supported Clients with $18.3 billion claims and benefits paid globally

1 Based on tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per square foot, relative to a 2014 baseline.

Client focus

In a competitive global marketplace, people and organizations have more choice in products and providers. That’s why our focus on Clients is more critical than ever.

For Sun Life, being Client-focused means listening and understanding what Clients need from us. We’re there for them through both good and tough times. It’s not just about selling insurance, benefits, or investment products. It’s about delivering the best outcomes for our Clients.

2021 goals

  • Continue to improve our Client experience index score
  • Make it easier for our Clients to have their problems resolved
  • Continue to digitalize our processes to make it easier for Clients to do business with us

Learn more about our focus on Clients in our annual sustainability report

Talent management

Talent and culture is one of Sun Life’s six strategic areas of focus. It’s about hiring people with the right skills and investing in their development. It’s about making their jobs meaningful, rewarding and engaging. We also want our employees to feel motivated in their work. When they are, we believe they’ll be more productive and passionate in delivering on our Purpose.

2021 goals

  • Stay above the financial services industry benchmark1 for employee engagement

Learn more about our talent management practices in our annual sustainability report

1 Based on Willis Towers Watsons benchmark of Global High Performance Companies and Global Financial Services.

Diversity, equity and inclusion

Fostering diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is the responsible thing to do, but its much more than that. It helps our Clients, colleagues and communities shine. And companies with inclusive cultures and diverse teams are more likely to be innovative, collaborative and agile.

2021 goals

  • Drive action towards our DE&I commitments and regional priorities
  • Strengthen mentoring, coaching and leadership sponsorship
  • Set up and begin using a framework to develop, advance and retain underrepresented talent
  • Develop outcome-based data and performance measurements to hold leaders accountable for our representation and culture objectives
  • Make progress towards 2025 diversity targets (50% women in VP+ roles globally and 25% underrepresented ethnicities in VP+ roles in North America)

Learn more about our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts in our annual sustainability report

Visit our Diversity and Inclusion page

Climate change and the environment

Two of the greatest threats we face today are a changing climate and natural resource depletion. These threats significantly affect our business and our stakeholders. Around the world, people are demanding that governments and corporations do more to fight climate change. 

Slowing the climate crisis is a global priority and we have an important role to play.

2021 goals

  • Achieve carbon-neutral operations globally
  • Continue working to lower GHG emissions intensity1 by 30% by 2030 (2014 baseline)2-4
  • Continue to improve Sun Life’s Sustainable Procurement Program by developing a process to assess existing suppliers (deferred from 2020)
  • Continue investing in virtual meeting capabilities to support a more remote workforce

Learn more about our environmental efforts in our annual sustainability report

1 GHG emissions intensity is expressed as kilograms of carbon dioxide equivalent per square foot of real estate.

2 The target calculation includes Scope 1, 2, 3 emissions from energy, water and waste (where weight data exists) for Canadian and U.S. Investment Properties, International Properties (owned from 2017 forward) and Corporate Real Estate properties >40,000 ft2. The properties included are those with greater than 75% data availability. Emissions are normalized for acquisitions, dispositions, weather, occupancy, and exceptional tenant load impacts (where data is available) so these factors do not affect progress towards the target. Sun Life's emissions used for target calculation differ from the annual absolute emissions which are calculated as per the GHG Protocol and reported on page 55 of our 2020 Sustainability Report. Further details on target calculation can be found in our 2020 GHG Emissions Reporting Methodology

3 We calculate year-over-year reductions annually. We report cumulative annual reductions since 2014 baseline.

4 Reported reductions account for the purchase of renewable energy credits (RECs) and carbon offsets (net, market-based reporting).

Risk management

As a large insurer and asset manager, Sun Life faces a variety of risks and uncertainties. These risks range from interest rate fluctuations and cybersecurity, to emerging ones such as climate change. Identifying and mitigating these risks is critical to our competitiveness, long-term sustainability and ability to meet financial obligations to Clients.

2021 goals

  • Conduct additional climate change scenario analysis and stress tests with a focus on transition risk
  • Continue implementing the recommendations of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures
  • Continue to profile sustainability risks and opportunities within our long-term strategic plan
  • Continue to raise sustainability-related risks within executive management committees and forums

Learn more about our risk management practices in our annual sustainability report

Data security and privacy

In the digital age, organizations like Sun Life hold more personal information than ever before. Our Clients trust us with their information. It’s critical that we take a leadership role to manage Client data safely and responsibly. Across our businesses, we use data to be more personal, predictive and proactive to help Clients reach their goals.

Our Client Data Privacy Principles serve as internal guardrails for how we use Client data to deliver on our Purpose. These principles include:

  1. We use Client data to deliver on our Purpose
  2. We do not sell Client data
  3. We inform Clients about why we collect and use their data

2021 goals

  • Streamline and adopt plain language in our public privacy statements
  • Complete communication and awareness campaign and continue embedding Client Data Privacy Principles
  • Leverage data from Privacy Impact Assessments for deeper analysis and enhanced reporting
  • Launch improved mandatory privacy training

Learn more about data security and privacy in our annual sustainability report

Governance and ethics

Good governance and behaviour are essential for any sustainable business. This is especially important for financial services companies like ours, which depend on public trust.

2021 goals

  • Improve accessibility of our Code of Conduct and Ethics Hotline on our website
  • Create awareness campaigns to encourage employees to speak up if they witness Code violations
  • Enhance digital services for shareholders to increase accessibility
  • Continue having a minimum representation of at least 30% women on our Board of Directors, with an aim to have balanced gender representation
  • Support the efforts of governments to address the pandemic and the economic recovery

Learn more about our governance practices in our annual sustainability report

2020 Sustainability Report

Read about our sustainability commitments in action:

Download the full report