Sun Life is a leading international financial services organisation with operations in a number of markets worldwide, providing insurance, wealth and asset management solutions to individual and corporate clients. Employee wellness underpins Sun Life’s ability to deliver excellent service to clients Tweet This! and to attract and retain top talent, while also helping to enhance its high-performance culture.
This case study is based on the 2019 Sustainability Report by Sun Life published on the Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Disclosure Database that can be found at this link. Through all case studies we aim to demonstrate what CSR/ ESG/ sustainability reporting done responsibly means. Essentially, it means: a) identifying a company’s most important impacts on the environment, economy and society, and b) measuring, managing and changing.
Through its Global Wellness Strategy, Sun Life aims to drive a culture of health and well-being for its employees worldwide. In order to promote employee wellness Sun Life took action to:
- announce a new paid family and medical leave programme
- raise awareness of mental health issues
- introduce a new health benefit
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With this case study you will see:
- Which are the most important impacts (material issues) Sun Life has identified;
- How Sun Life proceeded with stakeholder engagement, and
- What actions were taken by Sun Life to promote employee wellness
What are the material issues the company has identified?
In its 2019 Sustainability Report Sun Life identified a range of material issues, such as economic performance, ethics, integrity and anti-corruption, data security and privacy, human rights, talent management. Among these, promoting employee wellness stands out as a key material issue for Sun Life.
Stakeholder engagement in accordance with the GRI Standards
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) defines the Principle of Stakeholder Inclusiveness when identifying material issues (or a company’s most important impacts) as follows:
Stakeholders must be consulted in the process s of identifying a company’s most important impacts and their reasonable expectations and interests must be taken into account. This is an important cornerstone for CSR / sustainability reporting done responsibly.
Key stakeholder groups Sun Life engages with:
|Stakeholder Group||Method of engagement|
|· Client experience surveys
· Client focus groups
· Other feedback channels (in-person, mobile apps, email, social media, call centres, website)
· Online Client communities
· Usability testing
· Complaint resolution process
|· Engagement and check-in surveys
· Training and development activities
· Internal social media and online forums
· Team meetings and one-on-one meetings with managers, including formal performance appraisals
· Town hall meetings with senior executives
· Employee Ethics Hotline
· Internal inclusion networks
· Millennial think tank
|Shareholders, Investors, ESG Analysts
|· Investor Day
· Annual meetings
· Quarterly earnings conference calls and webcast presentations
· Participation in conferences
· Meetings with investor groups
· Participation in surveys
|Community Organisations and Members
|· Community outreach
· Employee and advisor giving and volunteerism
· Media relations
|· Request for proposal processes
· Regular meetings and briefings
· Ongoing relationship management
· Supplier risk assessment
· Supplier Diversity Programme
|Governments and Regulators, Industry Associations
|· Participation in consultation processes, conferences and events
· Memberships and participation in industry/trade associations
· Sun Life Political Action Committee (U.S.)
How stakeholder engagement was made to identify material issues
To identify and prioritise material topics Sun Life distributed an online materiality survey to key stakeholder groups, collecting 319 responses.
What actions were taken by Sun Life to promote employee wellness?
In its 2019 Sustainability Report Sun Life reports that it took the following actions for promoting employee wellness:
- Announcing a new paid family and medical leave programme
- In 2019, Sun Life announced a new paid family and medical leave programme for its own employees in the U.S., setting an industry-leading example in this area. The programme provides paid leave for employees in moments that matter. That includes bonding with a new child or caring for a family member who is ill. Unique to the programme is an inclusive definition of family to address the needs of a modern workforce. Sun Life is also advocating for the expansion of paid family and medical leave legislation across the country. Additionally, Sun Life rolled out its EAP (Employee Assistance Programme) for employees across Asia. Across Sun Life, all employees and their families can now get access to free, confidential support to help them with a range of needs. Sun Life also launched a sabbatical programme for Canadian employees, after a successful 2018 launch in the U.S.
- Raising awareness of mental health issues
- In 2019 Sun Life increased its efforts on growing awareness of mental health issues. Accordingly, Sun Life:
- Delivered a mental health webinar series for North American employees and held mental health education seminars for employees across Asia.
- Added cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as an eligible mental health benefit for Canadian employees. CBT helps people develop resilience and coping skills.
- Focused its annual 30-day wellness challenge in Canada on mental well-being. More than 2,800 employees participated.
- Introducing a new health benefit
- Sun Life introduced a new health benefit to help address a top health risk factor in its U.S. employee population. Employees who enrol get a blood pressure cuff that uploads data to a secure online account. The service also includes free coaching, anywhere, anytime. Sun Life also Introduced a defined contribution plan auto-enrolment and a discounted share purchase programme in the U.S., to help its employees achieve lifetime financial security.
Which GRI Standards and corresponding Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been addressed?
The GRI Standard addressed in this case is: Disclosure 403-2 Types of injury and rates of injury, occupational diseases, lost days, and absenteeism, and number of work-related fatalities
Disclosure 403-2 Types of injury and rates of injury, occupational diseases, lost days, and absenteeism, and number of work-related fatalities corresponds to:
- Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages
- Targets: 3.3, 3.9
- Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
- Targets: 8.8
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1) This case study is based on published information by Sun Life, located at the link below. For the sake of readability, we did not use brackets or ellipses. However, we made sure that the extra or missing words did not change the report’s meaning. If you would like to quote these written sources from the original, please revert to the original on the Global Reporting Initiative’s Sustainability Disclosure Database at the link:
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