Taking the next steps on our CSR journey
The pandemic has disrupted life as we know it. It has had a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable and marginalized communities. It has led to an increase in mental health challenges due to joblessness and lockdowns, lost educational opportunities for many children and a tragic loss of life around the world.
Despite all that it has taken away, the pandemic has given us the opportunity to reflect on what is truly important, how we treat one another, and how we as Moderna create value for all of our stakeholders.
It is our responsibility as a company, as an industry, and as global citizens to help ensure a pandemic of this magnitude never happens again. We must emerge stronger—even more resilient, equitable and sustainable.
The Moderna team is taking a number of steps to advance our commitment to corporate social responsibility, or CSR, as we work relentlessly to deliver on our mission for patients. Some have been bold leaps forward and others are smaller steps, but still important for a newly commercialized company.
As we continue through this period of accelerated growth, we are excited to continue to make corporate responsibility a critical part of who we are and what we do with a sense of purpose. From the delivery of our COVID-19 vaccine to our investment in renewable energy, we always seek to do the right thing, the right way.
Moderna’s early commitment to CSR
Nearly two years ago, I published a blog post about Moderna’s commitment to Corporate Social Responsibility. At the time, we were still a clinical-stage company and actively considering the impact we could have with our mRNA medicines in development.
How could we contribute to society in new and innovative ways that would positively affect global health?
Could our medicines help fight global epidemics and pandemics?
And how could we contribute to the health and welfare of our environment, our employees and the communities where we live and work?
In July 2018, we took a step toward answering these questions by publishing a CSR whitepaper—a bold step for a company with no approved products and negative cash flow from operations. The whitepaper laid out a framework for the core focus areas of our CSR program:
Medicines for Patients
Governance & Ethics
Creating this framework as a relatively small, early-stage company allowed us to integrate corporate citizenship into important efforts across our business, employee experience and the very definition of what Moderna stands for as an organization. Our efforts are driven by our belief that:
With the potential of our science comes a responsibility to the many patients our technology could help, regardless of whether they have a disease shared by millions, or one that is unique to them alone.
We have a responsibility to do our part to ensure the sustainability of our planet, and we will consider our impact on the environment in the decisions that we make.
We can and should use our expertise and resources to give back to the communities where we operate.
We have a responsibility to our employees to provide fulfilling careers that are purposeful and rewarding.
We must hold ourselves to the highest ethical standards across all areas of our business, and with stakeholders—both internally and externally—while ensuring we have the governance and practices in place to meet these standards.
Fast forwarding to today, we are a very different company than we were two years ago. 2020 was a historic year for Moderna and I believe 2021 will be the most important inflection point in Moderna’s history.
We are now a commercial company. We are generating positive cash flows from operations for the first time. We have nearly doubled the size of our team in the past year, and we now have team members in North America, Europe and soon in Asia.
What has not changed is our commitment to operating as a responsible business and a good corporate citizen. I’ll highlight a few key points around our team’s recent progress across our CSR framework:
Our first authorized mRNA medicine has treated millions of people around the world in the fight against a pandemic virus.
In 2020, our mRNA platform played an important role in supporting a rapid response to the global pandemic, and our COVID-19 vaccine is now authorized for use in more than 35 countries. We are actively participating in discussions with multilateral organizations, such as COVAX, to help expand access and protect populations around the world. And, as we advance our pipeline, our commitment to working on multiple levels to optimize the impact of mRNA vaccines and therapeutics is reflected in our Access Principles, which we developed in December 2020.
Additionally, while our intellectual property, or IP, portfolio and expertise uniquely positioned us to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic quickly, we felt a special obligation under the circumstances to use our resources to pledge, while the pandemic continues, that we will not enforce our COVID-19 related patents against those making vaccines intended to combat the pandemic. Further, to eliminate any perceived IP barriers to vaccine development during the pandemic period, upon request we are also willing to license our IP for COVID-19 vaccines to others for the post-pandemic period.
Just as we worked to ensure representation of communities of color and vulnerable populations in the Phase 3 clinical trial of our COVID-19 vaccine (with 37% of participants from diverse communities), we have an ongoing commitment to increasing diversity in our clinical trials. We are already building plans to further engage these populations in upcoming trials for our vaccine candidate against cytomegalovirus, a virus which is responsible for a devasting range of newborn birth defects. We want to help ensure that communities of color and vulnerable populations have confidence and trust in mRNA science and our products as we work to develop vaccines and therapeutics for everyone.
Vaccines continue to be the best hope to control infectious diseases. That’s why we have doubled down on our efforts to make more innovative commercial vaccines as well as public health vaccines widely available by collaborating with foundations and government agencies. We believe it is critically important that the entire field presses forward with research and innovation to make new, safe and effective vaccines a reality.
This year, we published expanded workforce diversity figures for the first time.
Among our Moderna employees, 46 percent are women and 54 percent are men. Among our leadership (which we define as employees at the vice president level and above), at year end 2020, approximately 37 percent are women, an increase from 35 percent in 2019. Additionally, 35 percent of our U.S. employees identify as racially or ethnically diverse as of year-end 2020, an increase from 32 percent in the prior year.
We have instituted regular reporting to our Board of Directors on key diversity metrics, and we have a belonging, inclusion and diversity-focus in every employee engagement survey.
We are proud of our incremental progress but recognize there is still much work to be done. The data alone do not tell the full story around any company’s efforts.
In June 2020, I signed the CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion pledge and committed to specific actions to cultivate a trusting environment where all ideas are welcomed—and people feel comfortable and empowered to have discussions about diversity and inclusion.
Since then, we have expanded our emphasis on belonging, inclusion & diversity, creating a Conscious Inclusion education series for managers, conducting several internal seminars, panels, and discussions on inclusion, and adding a full-time senior-level role focused on belonging, equity, inclusion and diversity. We also launched a new employee resource group in support of our Black and African American employees, and reinvigorated our Women’s and LGBTQ+ Networks.
We are taking an early step toward achieving net-zero emissions within our U.S. facilities.
In 2021, we have committed to the direct use of renewable energy in our U.S. facilities, and to the extent we are not using renewable energy, we will offset our non-renewable electricity consumption through renewable energy credits (RECs).
We also aim to put Moderna at the forefront of managing the impact of waste from our business and to minimize the natural resources we use, while supporting employees’ efforts to do the same. We will continue to explore ways to ensure that our operations promote long-term sustainability and that we minimize our footprint as we grow.
In our communities, we are giving back in-person and virtually—and thinking about how to scale our impact for the future.
In December 2020, we celebrated our second annual Moderna Volunteer Week. The introduction of more virtual volunteer activities allowed us to double the number of volunteer opportunities available to our team and the number of organizations we reached.
Now, we are working to further define our philanthropic efforts for the future. With this, we plan to develop a global giving strategy in 2021 and outline how we will support our communities through corporate philanthropy and employee giving.
We remain committed to quality, transparency and ethics.
As we look ahead, quality, transparency and accountability remain priorities for Moderna. The highest ethical standards are core to Moderna’s future success—from our clinical trials, the manufacturing process and creating high-quality medicines, to how we conduct ourselves in our relationships with employees, patients, investors and other stakeholders.
In 2020, we were the first company to file a full, un-redacted version of our Phase 3 clinical protocol online so clinicians around the world could see, in full transparency, the design of our COVE study. To further show our commitment to transparency, we also published a number of our key corporate policies externally, including our human rights policy.
In 2021, we plan to explore more robust reporting frameworks to support the disclosure of financially material sustainability information to our investors and other stakeholders.
Moving forward, we will continue to build upon, execute against and report on all areas outlined in our CSR framework—an effort which I believe is critical to all our stakeholders, important to our employees and will be a key contributor in our efforts to bring new medicines to patients around the world.
You can find more on our Environmental, Social and Governance-related efforts and our overall commitment to CSR on the newly updated Responsibility section of our website.
This post contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995, as amended, including statements regarding: actions by Moderna to promote corporate social responsibility, the Company’s development of a vaccine against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and the sale of that vaccine to customers around the world; the Company’s approach to enforcement of its intellectual property rights and willingness to enter into licensing arrangements for its intellectual property; the Company’s conduct of clinical trials, particularly as it relates to diverse participant enrollment; the Company’s efforts to develop vaccines against infectious diseases; the Company’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion; efforts to reduce or offset the Company’s carbon emissions and utilization of renewable energy and to reduce waste; efforts to enhance the Company’s philanthropic efforts; and plans to report on sustainability initiatives. In some cases, forward-looking statements can be identified by terminology such as “will,” “may,” “should,” “could,” “expects,” “intends,” “plans,” “aims,” “anticipates,” “believes,” “estimates,” “predicts,” “potential,” “continue,” or the negative of these terms or other comparable terminology, although not all forward-looking statements contain these words. The forward-looking statements in this statement are neither promises nor guarantees, and you should not place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements because they involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by these forward-looking statements. These risks, uncertainties, and other factors those other risks and uncertainties described under the heading “Risk Factors” in Moderna’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2020, filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and in subsequent filings made by Moderna with the SEC, which are available on the SEC’s website at www.sec.gov. Except as required by law, Moderna disclaims any intention or responsibility for updating or revising any forward-looking statements contained in this annual report in the event of new information, future developments or otherwise. These forward-looking statements are based on Moderna’s current expectations and speak only as of the date hereof.