Diverse Talent Thrives in Diverse Places

Smiling middle aged mixed race woman sitting at the table in her dining room looking at tablet computer and making notes, selective focusCareer-fluid expectations might drive headlines about digital nomads dialing in from Cambodia, but chances are that mid-career and rising professionals head to Columbus instead. Increasingly, firms are discovering diversity outside major metro areas. 

BPM focuses its college recruiting at HBCUs in southern states and overshot this year’s goals. “We attempted to hire from two schools and ended up adding two additional HBCUs. We had hopes that five to eight percent of its most recent new hires, in general, would represent ethnic diversity, and actually ended up with 10%,” says Rob Blasi, chief people, diversity and inclusion officers. 

A July 2022 analysis published by the Wall Street Journal, found that second-tier urban areas in lower-cost states were the preferred destinations for remote workers. Re-centering life around family and friends, not around employers’ demands, relieved childcare worries, concerns about caring for loved ones, commutes, and household budgets. 

With half of its projects handled by remote teams, Schellman realized that Ohio was fertile ground for recruiting and retaining the tech talent it must have. “A lot of the Big Four don’t heavily recruit from Ohio schools, but Ohio and surrounding schools have amazing talent,” says Schellman CEO Avani Desai. “And, when candidates learn that they won’t have to leave the Midwest to ascend at a fast-growing firm and be paid equitably according to their work, not their location, they’re sold.” 

“Schellman has only recently started recruiting directly from colleges and designed an on-ramp for grads that engages them in projects across the firm, from our training center located in Columbus, Ohio. From there, they have visibility into if and where they might move to rise within the firm,” says Desai. 

“I feel like we’ve hired a huge variety of gender and race over the last few years, and the next step will be to go beyond appearances.” 

Reema Patel, manager, CBM 


When CBM finally started to achieve critical mass with diverse employees, momentum also grew for business development, thanks to the amplifier effect of those same employees’ diverse networks, says Reema Patel, a manager with the firm. “It’s like a circular thing. If we have people from different backgrounds, we can reach networks from different backgrounds,” she says. 

In the past, new associates were recruited from the same roster of colleges, which, unsurprisingly, yielded people with congruent connections. 

“Now, I feel like we’ve hired a huge variety of gender and race [professionals] over the last few years, and the next step will be to go beyond appearances,” Patel says. CBM now intends to encourage this ripple effect by supporting staff’s engagement with a variety of nonprofits for strategic volunteering. 

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