Fostering diversity, equity and inclusion

Building inclusivity from the inside out

We can’t be bystanders and hope that inclusion happens. We believe in the importance of an inclusive and caring culture where everybody belongs. That’s what attracts great talent and makes our teams stronger. These values also help serve the diverse needs of our Clients and communities around the world.   

Our approach

Sun Life welcomes diversity of all kinds – gender, race, religion, age, country of origin, sexual orientation, neurodiversity and ability. We encourage and support diverse perspectives and beliefs. We continue to innovate and evolve when it comes to DE&I. While we have already taken important steps and earned external recognition for our diverse and inclusive practices, we’re advancing in our journey to becoming a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategy 2025 sets three pillars to enhance and evolve our efforts:

1. Learning: The foundation of our strategy is research. We’re using data-driven insights and employee feedback to learn where barriers exist and where to focus our efforts. And we’re using advanced metrics to measure our progress along the way.  

2. Building: We’re continuing to foster a respectful culture with inclusive policies, programs and education. Sun Life is developing new practices and finding opportunities to improve existing ones so they work for everyone.

3. Leading: We’re creating tools and practices that empower leaders to lead by example and raise awareness of DE&I opportunities and challenges. We’re focused on ownership and accountability.

We set 2025 as a milestone year, with specific aspirational goals and outcomes we're aiming to achieve. But improving on DE&I isn’t work that ever gets finished. It’s an ongoing process that we'll continue to adapt and grow as needed.

Our DE&I activities focus on our Clients, colleagues and the communities we serve. From our policies, programs and training to our marketing and philanthropic activities, we embed DE&I across our operations. Refer to our recent summary of our practices.

Sun Life is a signatory to the BlackNorth Initiative, led by the Canadian Council of Business Leaders Against Anti-Black Systemic Racism. BlackNorth aims to help remove systemic barriers that negatively affect the lives of Black Canadians. We're also a member of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business and are working towards its Progressive Aboriginal Relations certification. Refer to Sun Life’s Indigenous Commitments.  

In the U.S., we're a sponsor of the National African-American Insurance Association (NAAIA). NAAIA provides insights on industry trends and opportunities for development, recruiting and networking among professionals of all backgrounds. Sun Life has also partnered with the Boston chapters of the Association of Latino Professionals For America and the National Association of Asian American Professionals, the Milwaukee chapter of National Black MBA Association and Out & Equal (national). We continue to support the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to promote racial justice and equality through their economic justice platform. Sun Life has also engaged with the Human Rights Campaign and GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) in their efforts to expand protections and opportunities based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

Employees are an important driver of our progress. As part of our commitment to building an inclusive culture, we seek to prevent discrimination throughout an employee's journey: from the recruitment process to ensuring fair treatment during the professional development and promotion processes. We strive to improve workforce diversity based on age and to support the employment of people from underserved communities. 

DE&I is a constant topic of conversation across our company, from the executive level to our front-line colleagues. Through collaboration and learning platforms, our teams share personal stories, tips and insights on how to build a more inclusive culture. For example, the Kaleidoscope by Hive Learning program provides resources that encourage inclusive workplace practices. Some topics include unconscious bias, psychological safety and trust, and supporting cognitive diversity in teams. 

In North America and Asia, we have more than 10,600 members across our internal inclusion networks. The networks are voluntary, employee-led communities. Each network supports and advocates for one of the many diverse populations at Sun Life. These networks play an important role in fostering our culture of inclusion, and support community organizations through volunteering and philanthropic contributions. Refer to page 40 in our Sustainability Report for a few 2023 highlights from our inclusion networks.

As a company that operates around the globe, upholding human rights is fundamental to being a trusted and responsible business. It’s vital to our ability to make all employees feel safe. It helps us mitigate risks in our supply chain. And it’s essential to advancing a more inclusive society.  

We integrate human rights protections throughout our business. It starts with our global Code of Conduct. Our commitment is supported by policies on employment equity, health and safety, harassment and discrimination, and procurement in various regions. These policies help guide our people, as well as suppliers, in respecting human rights and applicable laws. We enforce zero tolerance for any forms of bribery, violence, harassment, discrimination and human trafficking, in both our workplace and supply chain.

Sun Life also has programs such as:

  • Mandatory and refresher employee training on various aspects of human rights.  
  • Critical supplier assessment procedures that review policies and standards on human rights criteria such as labour practices.
  • An Ethics Hotline for reporting human rights violations.

We continue to assess our practices in this area. Learn more in Governance and Ethics.

We hold ourselves accountable for delivering real change and we track our progress over time. We identify areas for improvement by benchmarking against external best practices and monitoring various indicators of DE&I.   

One indicator we monitor relating to gender diversity is pay. Sun Life’s pay philosophy supports fairness for all employees and rewards top performance. We’re committed to pay equity for all employees and ensuring managers make unbiased, performance-driven pay decisions. Supporting that commitment, we regularly review pay by gender and other diverse groups. We disclose the results annually in our Sustainability Report.  

We also provide workforce diversity data to leaders across Sun Life to help them analyze performance and keep us on track with our commitments. This data includes how we are progressing on representation and engagement survey results related to inclusive behaviours that contribute most to company culture. Refer to our ESG Performance Tables. 

Aspirational goals (by 2025)1

  • Gender parity2 in Vice-President (VP)+ roles (Global)

    In progress – 37% women (FY23)

  • 25% underrepresented ethnicities3 in VP+ roles (North America)

    In progress – 20% (FY23) 

  • 3.5% Black employees in VP+ roles (Canada)

    In progress – 1.9% (FY23)

  • 5% Black employees within student workforce (Canada)

    Achieved – 5% (FY23) 

  • 13% Black/African American employees at each level (U.S.)4

     In progress – 7% in VP+ roles; 6% in AVP and Director roles; 15% in staff roles (FY23) 

  • Balanced gender representation on the Board of Directors

    Achieved – 50% women (Q1'24)

  • 20% to 25% representation by underrepresented groups3 on our Board of Directors

    Achieved – 25% of Board members self-identify as members of underrepresented groups (Q1'24)

  • Progressive Aboriginal Relations certification (Canada)

    In progress – Phase 2 complete (FY23)

  • 5% diverse supplier direct spend target in North America

    Off track – 1.4% (FY23) 

    Supplier diversity leaders across Sun Life continue to progress on identifying opportunities for diverse suppliers. As we progress, we’ve expanded our supplier diversity training and enhanced our program to improve our identification of diverse suppliers across North America. 

2023 highlights

  • 94% of employees said that Sun Life supports diversity in the workplace5
  • Completed Phase 2 of the Progressive Aboriginal Relations certification program in Canada
  • Continued to deliver and expand DE&I education in all our learning channels

Learn more about our progress and performance in our 2023 Sustainability Report and ESG Performance Tables

Sun Life Indigenous Commitments

It is important to recognize Canada’s history and work towards Indigenous reconciliation as outlined in the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #92. Read more about Sun Life commitments to Indigenous Clients, colleagues and communities. 

Learn more


2023 Report on Business logo 2023 Report on Business logo

Recognized by Women Lead Here for the fourth year in a row. Published by the Globe and Mail, Report on Business magazine, Women Lead Here is an annual list that sets the benchmark for gender diversity in Canada.

2023 Report on business women lead here 2023 Report on business women lead here

Sun Life Global Solutions (SLGS) India was recognized as a top 50 Best Workplaces for Women by Great Places to Work 2023.

Parity Certified logo Parity Certified logo

Awarded a Platinum level Gender Parity CertificationTM6 by Women in Governance. This certification recognizes organizations who demonstrate an exceptional commitment to gender parity in the workplace.

Human Rights Campaign Foundation Corporate Equality Index logo Human Rights Campaign Foundation Corporate Equality Index logo

For the 15th consecutive year, Sun Life U.S. has earned a 100 score on the Human Rights Campaign Foundation Corporate Equality Index.

Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index 2023 logo Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index 2023 logo

For the sixth consecutive year, Sun Life was named to the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index.  

Women of Influence (WoI) Awards logo Women of Influence (WoI) Awards logo

Sun Life U.S. has been named a Top 25 Company Where Women Want to Work by Girls Club.

Commitments and memberships

 BlackNorth Logo
Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council logo
Women Business Enterprises Canada logo
 Club des 30 % logo

Underrepresented ethnicity data is based on employee voluntary self-identification. 91% of employees surveyed have provided self-identification data. Board representation data based on self-identification. 

Gender parity is defined as women representation between a range of 47% to 53%. This range accounts for employees who identify as non-binary based on current global averages.

Canada: those who voluntarily self-identify as Visible Minorities per the Employment Equity Act; U.S.: those who voluntarily self-identify as People of Color per the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 

U.S. refers to the U.S. Group Benefits, Dental (including DentaQuest) and In-Force management businesses of Sun Life U.S. as reported by Sun Life Financial Group Inc.

Based on the Q4 global employee engagement survey. 71% of employees surveyed participated. Refer to Sustainability Data Scope - Note 4.

6 Exclusively used by Women in Governance.

Refer to Sustainability Data Scope.