We all want to work for a company where we fit in. That’s why Elastic built a Source Code that encourages all to come as they are. In the Someone Like Me blog series, we highlight Elasticians who have a unique story — one, perhaps, just as unique as yours.
In this edition we revisit Bill McConaghy, senior manager of software engineering on Kibana, to talk about his experience with Elastic’s Accessibility Working Group, an employee resource and equity-seeking team that works to create and develop a disability inclusive workplace at Elastic.
Last year we talked to you about the recently formed Accessibility Working Group, and the work they were planning to make Elastic more accessible. What has the group been able to accomplish?
I’m proudest of the work we’ve accomplished with the recruiting platform. The application process — from reading the job listing to applying — is now a lot easier for people with accessibility needs. This is important, because to make accessibility better at Elastic we need more Elasticians who will advocate for it —that often comes from the people those accessibility issues affect most.
On the product side, we recently introduced themes for every Kibana release. As the eCore UI team lead, I advocated that the first be accessibility. Michail Yasonik sent out accessibility tips and tricks each week to the engineers, and there was an overall challenge to fix accessibility bugs. We were able to resolve a lot of issues. Best of all, the developers are now more aware than ever about accessibility issues, and have made solving them a part of their everyday work flow.
How have you felt supported at Elastic?
It’s been three years since I was diagnosed with my vision impairment. Around this time, the engineering team came together for an All Hands. I have a sensitivity to bright light so I was wearing sunglasses throughout. After the All Hands, I decided that I need to be open about what I’m going through. I sent an email to the team and Kevin Kluge, VP of engineering, reached out personally. He told me that if I needed anything, he was there to help.
Since then, my vision has gotten a lot worse. I’m legally blind in my left eye, and my right is headed in the same direction. Still, it’s comforting to work for a company that’s prepared to reach out, do what’s necessary, and evolve their care so that I can achieve my best work.
Why do you think accessibility is important at Elastic?
There are many well-paying tech jobs out there, but I stick with Elastic because we have a shared philosophy. Part of that philosophy is empathy towards others. Because of this built-in empathy, I’ve been able to take the personal tragedy of losing my vision and turn it into something positive here at Elastic. It would be easy to sit here and feel sorry for myself, but to use my condition to become an advocate for accessibility at Elastic is incredibly meaningful to me, and that Elastic supports that means even more.