Aerie’s Commitment to Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance
At Aerie, we are dedicated to the principles of environmental stewardship, social responsibility, good corporate governance and human capital. We consider these ESG principles to be among our most important values and therefore integrate them in our ongoing and strategic activities. We believe incorporating these values and practices into our operations not only improves our performance but also creates a sustainable and growth-oriented culture that benefits our employees, our customers and our investors. Our Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee of the Board of Directors regularly reviews our operations with senior management to assess our progress in realizing these values. With our Board of Directors’ leadership, we plan on continuing to evaluate our ESG practices and to integrate sustainability into our business.
We recognize our responsibility to be environmentally conscious and to contribute to the global effort of tackling climate change, moving toward a low-carbon economy and expanding the use of renewable energy. Renewable energy is an important part of our commitment to sustainability, and where feasible we operate our manufacturing facilities using renewable energy. At our Athlone manufacturing plant in Ireland we purchase 100% of our electricity from renewable sources and the electric supply is 100% carbon neutral.
We employ green processes, materials, practices, equipment and technologies where feasible throughout our operations to foster conservation and reduce waste. We minimize energy consumption using various power-saving technologies designed to consume electrical power only when needed. The majority of our office space in the U.S. is Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (“LEED”) certified, and both our manufacturing plant in Athlone, Ireland, and our implant manufacturing facility in Durham, North Carolina, were built from end-to-end with sustainability and good manufacturing practices in mind. We have also instituted environmentally conscious programs into the work environment for our employees by implementing recycling and composting programs, offering water dispensers to reduce plastic bottle waste, and providing electric automobile charging stations in our employee parking areas, as examples. In 2020, we recycled 63% of the non-hazardous waste produced at our Athlone manufacturing plant. Through these programs and continuous improvement, we strive to reduce our waste while maximizing the proportion that may be recycled. Looking to the future, we plan to continue to further enhance our sustainability posture through detailed monitoring and management of our energy, water and waste management practices.
From a social responsibility perspective, as an ophthalmic pharmaceutical company, we are focused on the needs of patients, physicians and the communities we serve, including supporting patient advocacy through philanthropic donations. Although we have not yet attained profitability as a company, we have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to causes that we believe are important to society. These donations were directed to support glaucoma research and glaucoma patient education through ongoing collaborations with the Glaucoma Research Foundation, help fund free cataract surgery for 750 indigent patients in the United States over the past three years through a continuing match program with the American Society of Cataract Refractive Surgery Foundation and promote the empowerment of women in ophthalmology as a lead sponsor of Women in Ophthalmology. In addition, these donations were also directed to accelerate treatments and cures for retinal diseases for the next generation through the Foundation Fighting Blindness and expand opportunities for ophthalmology residents from groups that are underrepresented in medicine or who want to work in underserved communities through support of the National Medical Association’s Rabb-Venable Excellence in Ophthalmology Research Program. We have also made other donations as well as supported causes of interest to areas beyond our immediate scope in eye care, such as our long-standing relationship with Northside Center for Child Development (“NCCD”) and their work with New York City children in need, in order to support the communities we serve.
We also strive to be socially conscious in our employment practices. We support diversity in our hiring practices and follow a management philosophy that integrates social responsibility and the highest governance standards. We established an Affirmative Action Plan in 2018 in compliance with the requirements of the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs. We are committed to making a good faith effort to improve our current practices over time when the opportunity is available. All managers are trained in Equal Employment Opportunity compliant recruiting and interviewing practices.
From a governance perspective, our Audit Committee has consistently received very high ratings for independence and competency, and our most recent stockholder vote on executive compensation practices received nearly 95% support. Our Nominating and Corporate Governance Committee monitors the effectiveness of our corporate governance guidelines and our code of business conduct and ethics and oversees our ESG strategy and policies. Our Audit Committee monitors our compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. We have established and follow our Aerie Compliance & Ethics (“ACE”) program in an effort to ensure integrity in our activities and compliance with all legal and regulatory requirements applicable to our operations. Our Chief Compliance Officer manages the ACE program. As we continue to build our company, we will continue to keep the environment, our social responsibility and governance considerations at top of mind.