Manulife and Sun Life solidify commitment to diversity and inclusion

Top insurers announce leadership and recruitment goals to raise representation of BIPOC individuals

Manulife and Sun Life solidify commitment to diversity and inclusion

The country’s top life insurers are throwing their support behind the industry-wide fight to end racial discrimination.

Manulife has announced that it is taking concrete steps toward a five-year goal of increasing Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) representation across its North American businesses.

“We recognize how important it is to improve the diversity of our organization at all levels,” Manulife President and CEO Roy Gori said in a statement. “Establishing goals not only demonstrates our commitment to this important work, it will help us build a more inclusive culture to drive innovation and enable us to better serve our customers.”

The company has pledged to further diversify its North American workforce, including John Hancock in the U.S., by raising BIPOC representation in leadership roles by 30% by 2025 and hiring at least 25% BIPOC talent annually in its graduate program.

Aside from those commitments, Manulife has become a signatory to the BlackNorth Initiative Pledge in Canada, as well as the CEO Action for Diversity and Inclusion pledge in the U.S.

The company shared details of these new steps several weeks after it announced that it will be investing more than $3.5 million over the next few years in an effort to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in its workplace as well as the communities it serves.

Sun Life likewise affirmed its commitment to enhancing BIPOC representation and removing systemic barriers that negatively affect the lives of such individuals.

“We're at an inflection point in society ─ there is a movement to drive lasting change to address and eliminate systemic racism," Sun Life President and CEO Dean Connor said. “At Sun Life, we're increasing our efforts to create organizational and societal change. That includes engaging in difficult conversations about race to create equal opportunity and foster inclusion for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour at Sun Life.”

Sun Life shared details of its action plan, including a $1-million investment this year, to make a meaningful difference in three areas.

To recognize and reflect the diversity among its clients and communities, the company has signed on to the goals of the BlackNorth Initiative, committed to funding groups like the Canadian Race Relations Foundation that support under-represented communities, and is increasing its relationships with vendors, suppliers and small businesses owned by BIPOC and women.

Addressing its talent and culture, Sun Life said it is aiming to have 25% of under-represented minorities at the senior leader level within five years, including specific objectives to address shortfalls with respect to BIPOC individuals. It’s also setting goals for representation below the senior leader level within the same timeframe, with a focus on strengthening career paths and opportunities for diverse students; this year, it said, over a quarter of the 300 students it hired in North America this year self-reported as ethnically diverse.

Finally, the company said it is providing knowledge, information, and safe spaces for its leaders and employees to become comfortable engaging in uncomfortable conversations about race and racial injustice. Aside from diversity training for its Executive Team and holding internal learning forums, it has increased funding for its employee inclusion networks and added a digital learning platform to help teams learn how to talk meaningfully about diversity and build inclusive behaviours.