As the ALP looks to push its carbon emissions legislation through the Federal Parliament, young business leaders are already taking the initiative by placing ESG at the heart of their operating models.

Australian cybersecurity firm Phronesis Security is one such business looking to move the needle in its sector by implementing strong sustainable and ethical practices. As such, it has become the first cyber security company in Australia to achieve the coveted B Corp certification which founder and CEO Elliot Dellys hopes will inspire other businesses to adopt and improve their social and environmental impact.

The cyber security firm works with an array of clients including government, critical infrastructure, charities, payment providers and technology start-ups and specialises in a wide range of cybersecurity management and strategy solutions.

Philanthropy a core business pillar

According to the 2021 GivingLarge report, corporate philanthropy in Australia is on the rise, achieving a record $1.16 billion total last year despite the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

For Phronesis Security, its philanthropy is baked into the DNA and daily operation of its business. Inspired by effective altruism and the 80,000 hours project, the company donates 10 per cent of monthly profit (capped to 3 per cent of revenue) to a small number of highly effective charities. These are selected through a rigorous process to ensure the greatest impact per dollar, and include the Against Malaria Foundation, the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation and Carbon Positive Australia.

In the 12 months since launching, Phronesis Security has been able to support the building of 1,433 anti-malaria bed nets, funded approximately 24 per cent of the cost of an Indigenous tertiary education scholarship, and offset 244 tonnes of CO2 equivalent. The plan is for the company’s impact to scale with growth.

In a sector where improving social and environmental impact is often not the core focus, Phronesis Security CEO and founder Elliot Dellys has a vision where corporate philanthropy is the norm, not the exception, and hopes his model will be adopted by more in the sector and broader business community.

“We’re proud to be a part of the B Corp community and hope to demonstrate how maximising impact need not come at the expense of growth,” Dellys says.

“At Phronesis Security, every billable hour contributes to our social and environmental impact. It is part of who we are and guides us towards staff and clientele who share our values and vision.”

Staff retention

As labour shortages continue to plague the cybersecurity industry, Phronesis Security’s philanthropy model has also been critical in the company’s strong staff retention rates. The focus on a strong impact driven mission works in tandem with a raft of employee benefits including generous training allowances, dedicated mental health and community leave, work from home office and ICT allowances, and a remote-by-default policy that provides employees with access to coworking spaces over 750 locations across 38 countries.

“When I worked in the Australian Signals Directorate, mission was at the core of everything we did, and that sense of purpose was something I sought to emulate in my own company,” Dellys says, on how the new model has helped him retain staff in an increasingly hot labour market.

“Our model is predicated on giving the team a data-driven mission that’s tied to clear, tangible impacts. We leave work every day knowing that what we’ve done isn’t just helping our clients protect their crown jewels, but also protecting our planet and disadvantaged people. It’s our way of using our skills to generate the greatest possible impact.”

Emission Reduction and B Corp certification

On top of its philanthropic model, emissions reduction has been a core pillar of Phronesis Security’s operations. The company currently has a calculated annual carbon footprint of 79.45 tonnes of CO2 which it significantly offsets through the guidance and support of charity partner, Carbon Positive Australia.

Chief executive of Carbon Positive Australia, Louise Tarrier says of the partnership with Phronesis: “We are always delighted to partner with B Corp organisations because we begin from a place of shared values. Our partnership with Phronesis assists us in planting native trees across Australia. These trees sequester carbon and increase biodiversity by providing habitat for flora and fauna”.

Phronesis Security sees its emissions reduction, B Corp certification and staff retention as a happy by-product of its overall mission of doing ‘cyber security for good’.

Impact and engagement manager for B Corporation ANZ, Kira Day, says firms with strong values like Phronesis see certification as a way to help improve their impact on the world.

“B Corp Certification is one of the ways businesses can demonstrate that they are committed to being accountable and making decisions with a long-term view. For most businesses, including Phronesis, this milestone is a huge achievement — but also the start of a journey of continuous improvement.”


This article was developed in collaboration with Phronesis Security, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.