Bankers dominated an annual legal industry event celebrating powerful women, as executives from Citigroup (NYSE:C), Goldman Sachs (GS) and ING U.S. accepted awards from the nonprofit Legal Momentum.

The organization, a women's legal defense and education fund, held its annual "Aiming High" awards luncheon in New York on Wednesday. The five honorees included three financial services executives: Suni Harford, Citigroup's regional head of markets for North America; Liz Beshel Robinson, Goldman's treasurer; and Maliz Beams, the chief executive of the retirement solutions unit of ING U.S., which is changing its name to Voya Financial. (The two other women honored were Ivy Thomas McKinney, the deputy general counsel and chief ethics officer of Xerox, and Kelly Tullier, the deputy general counsel of PepsiCo.)

Last year, American Banker Magazine also named Harford and Beams to its annual list of the Most Powerful Women in Finance.

Speakers at the luncheon mentioned a host of problems facing women in the corporate world and beyond, from the "Lean In" discussion about work/life balance sparked by Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg's recent book, to poverty and domestic violence.

Harford, who runs the internal Citi Women mentorship and diversity program with fellow executive Deborah McWhinney, said in her remarks that making progress on most of those issues takes time and patience: "Change does not come quickly," she said.

She also addressed the work/life balance debate, and the inescapable question of whether women can "have it all."

"Of course women can have it all, but it all depends on the meaning of 'it,'" Harford said, attributing the quote to "my dear friend Ms. McWhinney."

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