7 months after a sexual harassment scandal, the human resources startup BetterWorks has a new CEO

Doug Dennerline started his new role as CEO of BetterWorks on Wednesday.

Doug Dennerline started his new role as CEO of BetterWorks on Wednesday.

  • The former Cisco and Salesforce executive and veteran CEO Doug Dennerline started as CEO of BetterWorks on Wednesday.
  • BetterWorks, a Silicon Valley human resources startup, has been rocked by multiple lawsuits including allegations of sexual harassment from its founding CEO Kris Duggan, as well as an inhospitable office culture.
  • Read more about how Dennerline plans to move BetterWorks forward here.

BetterWorks has a new CEO, seven months after founder Kris Duggan announced that he would step down following sexual harassment allegations.

Doug Dennerline, a former Cisco and Salesforce executive, started his new job at BetterWorks on Wednesday with an all-hands meeting where he addressed the last few months and his ambitions moving forward.

“If there is a weird positive in all this, I would say you, in a lot of ways, are incredibly hyper-aware of harassment and sexual harassment issues, and understand that it’s incredibly wrong,” Dennerline told his staff in an all hands-meeting that reporters were invited to. “I’ve tried to live a life, and entire career, with that kind of high bar for myself, and I’m going to continue.”

In his brief speech, Dennerline acknowledged that BetterWorks had lost some customers over concerns with company culture, and highlighted a company open mic, as well as a diversity and inclusion group as steps the staff has taken to address employee concerns.

Dennerline, previously CEO of the content management service Alfresco, first joined the BetterWorks board in October, just two months after Duggan announced that he would leave his role.

Duggan, who remains on the board of directors, told Business Insider that he is “excited” about his replacement, who he said was first recommended for the role by the BetterWorks vice president of sales Karen Richter.

BetterWorks has spent the last few months in a crisis of culture

Kris Duggan, the founding CEO of BetterWorks, stepped down from his role following a sexual harassment scandal over summer.

Kris Duggan, the founding CEO of BetterWorks, stepped down from his role following a sexual harassment scandal over summer.

BetterWorks, which sells cloud-based human resources software, has faced at least two separate lawsuits since the summer which allege an office culture tolerant of sexual harassment.

The first lawsuit from June 2017 was settled in February. It alleged that Duggan got drunk during an offsite work retreat, entered a cabin occupied by the plaintiff in the complaint, Beatrice Kim, and touched Kim’s legs despite her asking him to stop. The lawsuit also charged that Duggan oversaw a company that tolerated jokes about women, rape, and female body parts and didn’t take seriously women’s complaints about sexual harassment.

Duggan has disputed several of the claims in the suit and said he stepped down as CEO only to “lessen the distraction” it was causing the company. Duggan remained at BetterWorks as its president until the end of 2017, and he still sits on its board.

The board also issued a statement that said an independent investigation found there was no violation of company policy.

“Following a thorough review of the facts by the independent investigator, and a review of the investigator’s process by the board, the board concluded that there was no violation of the company’s anti-harassment, anti-discrimination or any other policies. BetterWorks and its board are committed to fostering a positive work environment for all of its employees,” the statement reads.

A second sexual harassment lawsuit was filed by an ex-employee and was approved in December to move forward, according to Bloomberg. That lawsuit named BetterWorks, Duggan, investor John Doerr and his firm Kleiner Perkins, as well as two other executives, and claimed that they ignored sexual harassment at the company.

Dennerline in his speech Wednesday said that all lawsuits against the company have been resolved.