Thursday 22 August 2019

Irish tech company board 'confident' in co-founder after review into alleged inappropriate behaviour with female staff

Eoghan McCabe: The 34-year-old Dubliner works from Intercom’s base in California
Eoghan McCabe: The 34-year-old Dubliner works from Intercom’s base in California
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Staff at the Irish ‘unicorn’ software firm Intercom have been told that the company board remains “confident” in co-founder Eoghan McCabe after an internal review into a “human resources matter” relating to allegations of inappropriate behaviour towards some female staff.

“The Board is confident, based on the information we have now, that this matter was handled appropriately and is behind us,” co-founder Des Traynor told staff at an “all hands” meeting today.

“The Board is confident in Eoghan’s ability to continue to lead the company and the improvements he and the leadership team continue to make.”

Earlier this year, Mr McCabe apologised for “poor judgement” relating to behaviour with female staff. The entrepreneur’s behaviour came under the spotlight after an investigation by the US tech journal ‘The Information’, about reported complaints against the tech founder from a number of female employees.

”In the early years of the company I demonstrated some poor judgment,” Mr McCabe said previously about the allegations. “I apologised at the time and have matured as a person and a CEO since then.”

Mr Traynor told staff today that the company had retained a senior lawyer to head an investigation into the allegations.

“Recently, some questions were raised about the nature and handling of a human resources matter involving Eoghan a number of years ago,” Mr Traynor said. “At that time, an internal investigation was conducted by HR. Additionally, the Board conducted a review of that HR process including seeking advice from outside counsel. That said, and to reinforce our desire to build the right culture, the Intercom Board decided to conduct a fresh look to ensure that it was addressed appropriately.”

“The investigation of all these items was led by an industry leading expert from one of America’s top law firms, Helen Cantwell of Debevoise and Plimpton,” said Mr Traynor. “Helen was given access to Intercom’s internal materials, resources and current and former employees, including leadership.”

The investigation, he said, focused on “several aspects and drew several conclusions”.

Mr Traynor said that Ms Cantwell came up with a set of recommendations to “improve our ability to deal with workplace issues and develop stronger guardrails for governance”.

These included an update on workplace policies, “putting a stronger focus on our anti-harassment provisions… building on our current harassment training and... establishing an anonymous hotline, operated by a third-party vendor, to provide employees with the continued ability to safely report complaints and concerns”.

Intercom is one of the fastest-growing software firms in Europe and Silicon Valley. In the last five years, it has raised €200m in funding and was last valued at over €1bn.

Intercom’s main business is delivering customer messaging services online.

Intercom’s products are designed and developed in Dublin, while its sales and administrative headquarters are in Silicon Valley, where Mr McCabe now lives.

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