Bass Pro Shops were created out of frustration of a fisherman that could not find any tackle in his town. So in 1971, Johnny Morris rented a U-Haul and headed across America filling the truck with the newest tackle as he went. Once Johnny had finished, he returned home to Springfield, Missouri, and started his own fishing business with eight feet of space in his father’s liquor store (Bass pro shops, 2012). This became a starting point for many fishermen in the Ozark’s famous bass lakes. In 1974, after much demand, Johnny created a catalog that started his business booming.
Today, there are 65 Bass Pro Shops in the world as well as catalog and Internet shopping available. This was a new and exciting business for the sportsmen from all over the world until September 2011. On September 2011, the EEOC filed a federal lawsuit against the Missouri-based shop in Houston federal court claiming that Bass Pro Shops knowingly and systematically discriminated against Hispanics and Black applicants in hiring and that some of the mangers used racial slurs (Forsyth, 2011).
Bass Pro Shops told Reuters “that the complaints stem from the stereotype that people who like outdoor sports are racist redneck” (Forsyth, 2011 pg. 1). Not only is this lawsuit claiming that Bass Pro Shop has been discriminating in their hiring since 2005, it also states that Bass Pro unlawfully destroyed or failed to keep records and documents related to employment applications and internal discrimination complaints (Bass Pro Failed, 2011). For many years, outdoorsmen and women have used this type of establishment for buying supplies for their hobbies.
Many of these stores are in rural areas known to have a lack of cultural diversity. These areas are known for breeding ignorance and in turn have been known for stereotyping people, therefore finding that workplace diversity issues are not uncommon. Workplace diversity is a people issue that focuses on the differences of the people within any company. Workplace diversity also can be in relation with the areas that the people working are from. While moving around throughout my adult years, I have noticed that many of the cultural issues that I see here in the south are not an issue in northern states and other countries.
I have also seen a difference between small communities and large communities. Seems most people in the larger communities are much more open minded and willing to go out of their ways to embrace cultural diversity whether in their workplace or in their neighborhood. Diversity is about learning from other cultures and respecting the differences that come our way. I work in a small public school system; our county does not have a Wal-Mart. As far as cultural diversity, all the teachers, except for one are white and the support staff, to include janitorial, and kitchen help are all black. There is nothing in between.
Coming from a very culturally diverse area of Florida, I am very uncomfortable with this. I have had a conversation with some of the support staff, kitchen ladies, regarding the most segregated hour every week and we all agree that it is a shame. However, I have also heard some of the teachers in the lounge make statements like” It’s getting dark in here”, just like the managers at the Bass Pro Shop. Being an outsider to this town most folks are guarded around me and attempt to watch what is said, however; I still hear a long pause when I walk into a room and I am white, just not local.
We raised our children in the Military and Florida; these are two of the most culturally diverse communities I know. My children only saw green because of the uniforms, until we moved to Florida, they saw southern. The Bass Pro Shops are way off base in their thinking that people of different cultures do not need to be represented in their business. My sons both learned to fish with old southern black men who fished for their dinner whenever they could. This is a gift that I could never give to my children and I am thankful to these men for being such a positive influence in my son’s lives.
The Bass Pro Shops are in for hard times for this bad press. However, I fear that may not happen because of the type of individuals who frequent their business. I agree that those that have spoken out against this company should receive back pay and even get their jobs back, if they want it. I hope that these folks are strong enough to go back and build up a good relationship with the public, showing that they are and always have been the kind of people who will not be pushed down and forgotten. Cultural diversity is something we all need to embrace and grow with.