2020 Sustainability Report

Our commitment to sustainability brings our Purpose to life. In this report, you can read about our sustainability approach and progress in 2020.

Download report

2020 Sustainability Report

Our commitment to sustainability brings our Purpose to life. In this report, you can read about our sustainability approach and progress in 2020.

Download report

Our sustainability plan

Sustainability is a strategic priority for Sun Life in Canada and around the world. It’s essential to our business success. We want to contribute to a world that’s healthier, more financially resilient, environmentally secure, and economically prosperous. 

Our sustainability plan focuses on our areas of expertise where we can have the most positive social and environmental impact: This includes:

  • increasing financial security,
  • fostering healthier lives, and
  • advancing sustainable investing.

These efforts build from our foundation as a trusted and responsible business.

Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals

Through our sustainability plan, we focus our support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on the five where we believe we can have the greatest influence and impact. These are:

#3 Good health & well-being
#5 Gender equality
#7 Affordable and clean energy
#8 Decent work and economic growth
#13 Climate action

Advancing our sustainability plan

We aspire to increase the lifetime financial security of our Clients, employees and communities. We’re advancing financial security through innovative products, proactive education and improved access for underserved groups.

Priority Sustainable Development Goal: #8 Decent Work and Economic Growth.

2020 highlights:

  • Helped drive good financial decisions and habits with 1.2 million positive financial actions taken by Clients in Canada towards financial security. For example, thanks to Ella, our digital coach, Clients placed $700 million in savings products and obtained $1 billion of insurance coverage.
  • Launched Times & Dimes, a Sun Life podcast available on Spotify. Each episode examines the emotional impact of money and how it affects our lives.
  • Launched the “Let’s get you there” campaign in Canada. This campaign helps people set goals and stay on track for a happy, healthy life. The site offers advice, tools, online resources and a network of advisors across the country.
  • Worked with the non-profit Credit Counselling Society to offer free credit counselling and debt management services for plan members in Canada.
  • Converted face-to-face financial education sessions to online webinars. In this new virtual format, Sun Life Canada’s Group Retirement Services business was able to increase the number of webinars held and saw a 120% increase in attendance.

Learn more about our financial security activities

We aspire to improve health and wellness outcomes for all. To achieve this, we offer our Clients and employees products and tools to help them live healthier lives. At the same time, we’re working to improve health and wellness in society. We do that by improving access to health and disability insurance and investing in community health and thought leadership.

Priority Sustainable Development Goal: #3 Good Health and Well-being.

2020 highlights:

  • 523,000 Clients and their family members used Lumino Health Virtual Care in Canada powered by Dialogue. During the global health crisis, this offering is helping Clients in need of enhanced medical support while social distancing.
  • Over 109,000 positive decisions taken by Clients in Canada towards health and wellness after a nudge from our digital coach, Ella.
  • Donated $18.5 million to community organizations globally, including $4.5 million for diabetes awareness, prevention and care.  
  • Developed a new philanthropic partnership with TouGo, a French web platform dedicated to helping Quebecers take charge of their health. The platform includes healthy recipes, exercise routines and tips to encourage people to move more, eat better and feel good.
  • Introduced the Mental Health Navigator (MHN) from Teladoc Health’s Best Doctors, in Canada. MHN provides early intervention for Clients who are still at work but struggling with mental well-being.
  • Provided all Sun Life employees with paid wellness days. Wellness days allowed employees to step away from the stresses of work during the pandemic.
  • Published two Bright Paper reports to boost Client awareness of topical issues. The 2020 reports were “Virtual care. Its time has come” and “From pilot to launch: closing the gaps around access to mental health care.”

Learn more about how we’re fostering healthier lives

We aspire to deliver sustainable returns for Clients and drive the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy. To pursue our aspiration, we:

  1. manage capital with sustainability embedded in our investment processes,
  2. invest in assets and businesses that support the transition to a low-carbon and more inclusive economy, and
  3. offer our Clients sustainable investing opportunities.

Priority Sustainable Development Goals: #7 Affordable and Clean Energy and #13: Climate Change.

2020 highlights:

  • Committed to $20 billion in new sustainable investments over the next five years in assets and businesses that support the transition to a low carbon and more inclusive economy.
  • $60.1 billion sustainable investment assets under management, including $1.2 billion invested in renewable energy generation and energy storage solutions in 2020. These investments help the growing low-carbon economy.
  • Sun Life Canada’s Group Retirement Services business launched a proprietary ESG evaluation framework for its core investment platform of 23 investment managers. This framework identifies ESG leaders and helps Clients understand the level of ESG integration for the funds offered in their plans.
  • Sun Life Global Investments ensured ESG integration of all its funds through manager selection and oversight.
  • Sun Life applied ESG analysis to 100% of its internally managed active investment grade public corporate bond general account assets during both initial and ongoing reviews. 
  • SLC Management joined Climate Action 100+. Along with other asset managers and asset owners, we engage in collaborative discussions with the top carbon emitting companies. MFS also became an investor member of Climate Action 100+.

Learn more about our sustainable investing activities

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:

  • Increased transparency on climate change management by publishing our first TCFD-aligned disclosures in Sun Life’s 2020 Annual Report.
  • 34% women in Vice-President (VP)+ roles globally. We set a new goal to increase the representation of women in senior management to 50% globally by 2025.
  • 15% underrepresented ethnicities in VP+ roles in North America (target 25% by 2025).
  • Built a sustainability assessment process into all aspects of our corporate real estate operations in North America. We now incorporate sustainability considerations in every step of a building’s lifecycle. In 2021, we intend to expand this process to all corporate real estate operations globally.
  • Supported transparency and clarity in financial communications with our plain language initiative. This is in an ongoing international priority. In Canada alone, we rewrote 1,200 documents in 2020 to make information more clear and understandable for our Clients.
  • Achieved an 89% score in our 2020 Global Employee Engagement Check-in Survey, which is above the global financial services norm.1
  • Took significant steps to embed our new Client Data Privacy Principles into our policies and guidelines. We also launched a communication and awareness campaign to help everyone at Sun Life live and breathe these principles.
  • Achieved our gender representation goals for Board membership, with 36% women directors.

Learn more about our responsible business practices


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