Hey, remember that time Wal-Mart systematically paid its female employees less than its male employees and refused to promote them? Don't worry, I've forgotten, too! That silly data has been wiped from my mind by the news that Wal-Mart has launched a multi-billion dollar women's initiative! Yay!

For its "Women's Initiative," Wal-Mart's plan to is to spend $20 billion over the next five years buying products from female-owned businesses in the US and training women to work in factories and retail around the world. Which is actually about as self-serving as philanthropy gets: Training the poor people of the world to be your factory workers and calling it charity.

All of this is part of Wal-Mart working to improve its image in the US and worldwide. They've launched a local feel good campaign here in Portland, pointing out their donations nonprofits and work with local businesses as they move on building new stores in the area.

Anyway, they're also straight up donating $100 million in grants to nonprofit organizations aiding women which is, okay, much less selfish charity.

What Wal-Mart should do, however, is set up a "Women's Initiative" for the women of its own company. That $100 million would cover one-third of one year of back pay for the 333,769 female hourly staffers it underpaid. That's based on 2001 numbers (pdf) showing that female hourly workers—who make up 70 percent of Wal-Mart's hourly workforce in America—were paid $1,150 less annually than their male coworkers, on average. Or they could stretch that $100 million a little further to cover two-thirds of the $155 million it owes its 10,690 female managers for each year they worked, since those women were paid, on average, $14,538 less every year than their male counterparts.

Really, Wal-Mart, you know ladies love it when you take initiative. Pick up the (unpaid) check for once.