Fostering diversity, equity and inclusion

Unleashing creativity, innovation and value

Sun Life is stepping up efforts to drive meaningful change. We believe in the importance of an inclusive and caring culture. That’s key to attracting great talent and supporting an engaged workforce. These values also help serve the needs of our Clients and communities around the world. Our firm commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) is directly aligned with our Purpose, business strategy and success as a company. 

Our approach

Sun Life welcomes diversity of all kinds – gender, race, religion, age, country of origin, sexual orientation, neurodiversity and physical 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 having diverse and inclusive practices, we’re advancing in our journey to becoming a more diverse and inclusive workplace.

Our new 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 targets and outcomes we need to achieve. But improving on DE&I isn’t work that ever gets finished. It’s an ongoing process that continues to adapt and grow as needed.

Our DE&I activities are interconnected. They 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.

We have signed on to the goals in 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 also joined the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business. We’re working towards Progressive Aboriginal Relations (PAR) certification, which confirms corporate performance in Indigenous relations. Refer to Sun Life’s Commitment to Indigenous Relations.

In the United States, we have worked closely with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund to promote the fight for racial justice and equality. We are also supporting the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture’s Talking About Race portal, an online resource offering digital tools, exercises, scholarly articles and multi-media resources for those interested in racial equality Additionally, we have worked closely with America Competes, the Human Rights Campaign, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), and other organizations to promote the passage of the Equality Act in the Unites States. 

Employees are an important driver of our progress. DE&I is very much a topic of conversation across our company, from the executive level to our front-line colleagues. Through collaboration and learning platforms like Kaleidoscope by HIVE Learning, our teams share personal stories, tips and insights on how to build a more inclusive culture.

In North America and Asia, we have more than 7,700 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.

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 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
  • Supplier screening procedures that assess performance 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. We track our progress over time. And 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. 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. 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 for targets. 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.

Goals (by 2025)

  • 50% women in Vice-President (VP)+ roles globally

    On track – 35% (FY21)

  • 25% underrepresented ethnicities in VP+ roles in North America

    On track – 16% (FY21)

  • 3.5% black employees in VP+ roles in Canada

    On track – 2% (FY21)

  • 5% black employees within student workforce in Canada

    On track – 4% (FY21)

  • Balanced gender representation on the Board of Directors

    On track – 42% women (FY21)

  • Progressive Aboriginal Relations Certification (for Canadian operations)

    On track 

  • 5% diverse supplier direct spend target in North America

    On track – 1.6% (FY21)

2021 highlights

  • 62% of our CEO’s direct reports identify as women, and women make up 45% of our global Executive Team
  • 94% of employees1 say that Sun Life supports diversity in the workplace, and that the company recognizes and respects the value of human differences

Learn more about our progress and performance in our 2021 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. 

Read more

Diversity-related commitments and memberships

CAMSC logo

Recognition

Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index 2022 logo Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index 2022 logo

2022 Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index (5 consecutive years)

2022 Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality: 100% Corporate Equality Index 2022 Best Places to Work for LGBTQ+ Equality: 100% Corporate Equality Index

2022 Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index (100% score, 14th consecutive year)

LGBT CCI logo LGBT CCI logo

2021 LGBT Corporate Canadian Index (100% score)

Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Tecnology Awards Gold 2021 logo Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Tecnology Awards Gold 2021 logo

Gold medal for Best Advance in Diversity and Inclusion Innovation, with Hive Learning, from Brandon Hall Group Excellence in Technology Awards. This award recognizes our work to advance DE&I at scale through the Kaleidoscope learning experience.

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

Named the Best Company for Women at the AmCham 2021 Women of Influence Awards. This recognition was given for our commitment to advancing women by driving a respectful and inclusive workplace.

1 Based on global employee engagement survey. 72% of employees surveyed participated. Refer to Sustainability Data Scope – Note 2.