Sun Life Financial

Our sustainability strategy

Sun Life's focus on advancing sustainability – centred around a vision of building sustainable, healthier communities for life – is a key strategy for the company and is essential to our overall business success.

Sustainability means taking accountability for our social, environmental, economic and governance impacts, risks and opportunities, in ways that help ensure our long-term ability to deliver value to our Clients, employees, shareholders and communities.

While we've had sustainability-related programs in place for many years, in 2014 our Board of Directors approved a formal, company-wide sustainability strategy.

Advancing sustainability in 4 key areas

Our sustainability strategy rests on 4 pillars within which we continue to deepen our commitment and strengthen our practices.

Community wellness: We believe that by actively supporting the communities where we live and work, we can build a healthier, brighter future for our Clients, employees, advisors and shareholders. Our approach includes:

  • Helping Canadians improve their financial literacy
  • Giving back to communities across Canada
  • Strategically investing in infrastructure projects that foster healthy, sustainable communities
  • Advocating for public policies that encourage financial security and healthy lifestyles

Here's an example of our approach in practice:

Sun Life once again teamed up with Diabetes Canada to support its national diabetes awareness campaign in November. The campaign was aimed at increasing diabetes awareness and encouraging Canadians to go online and get screened for their risk of developing type 2 diabetes using the CANRISK assessment tool. Throughout November, over 118,000 Canadians were screened for the risk of developing the disease.

Organizational resilience: Our ambition is to be one of the best insurance and asset management companies in the world. It's about cultivating an organization that is competitive, resilient and forward-thinking.

To achieve this, we are working hard to understand what our Clients need and how we can deliver the best experience for them at key touch-points. Our employees are the most critical factor in this effort, so we're building the best team possible for today and tomorrow by effectively managing and developing our talent, supporting our employees' well-being and fostering an inclusive, high-performance culture.

Here are some examples of our approach in practice:

  • We introduced significant individual insurance underwriting changes and enhanced insurance products and services to make it easier and more convenient to buy insurance
  • For the 4th consecutive survey, our employee engagement scores have increased, coming in higher than the external benchmarks for global financial institutions and on par with top-performing global companies. This suggests that our intensified efforts to create a positive and rewarding employee experience are working.

Environmental responsibility: We believe that we must be accountable for the impact of our operations on the environment, and we take steps to measure, manage and reduce that impact. Our efforts in this area include:

  • Carbon management and resource efficiency in our operations
  • Responsible investment practices that consider environmental as well as social and governance risks and opportunities
  • Measurement and management of the environmental impact of our real estate investment portfolio

Examples of our focus on environmental responsibility include:

  • being the first major Canadian life insurer to sign the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment
  • the more than $4 billion we have invested in clean and renewable energy-related projects – including hydroelectric, wind, gas-fired and biomass power generation

Governance and risk management: We are committed to maintaining strong corporate governance practices and ethical behaviour throughout the organization, focusing on disciplined risk management and following disclosure practices that are both responsive and responsible. To that end, we have:

  • Executive management and a Board of Directors who are committed to a high level of integrity, governance and oversight of strategy and sustainability
  • Reporting programs and a governance structure that pro-actively address changing regulatory frameworks
  • Mechanisms in place to ensure we're responsive to the disclosure requirements of the investment community, while adhering to the disclosure rules

For example, our employees complete an annual Sun Life Financial Code of Business Conduct acknowledgement process, which includes training on important topics such as deterring fraud, combating money laundering and terrorist financing, avoiding conflicts of interest and rejecting corruption and bribery. To support our employees' adherence to the Code in their day-to-day business dealings, we have a network of contacts to answer questions and a 24-hour, confidential hotline where employees can report concerns about possible violations.

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