B of A Called a "Bros Club:" A Bank of America executive has filed a discrimination suit against her employer in which she described the company as a "bros club" that allows egregious pay discrepancies between men and women. Megan Messina, a managing director in the structured credit products division, also said B of A tried to push her out when she raised allegations of improper behavior that harmed clients.

Democrats Seek Fed Diversity: A letter to Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen signed by 11 senators and 116 representatives calls for improved diversity inside the "overwhelmingly and disproportionately white and male" central bank. It also urges higher priority in securing full employment for minorities as an economic goal. All of the signatories are Democrats and include Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York.

Goldman Swaps Leaders at its Bank … : Goldman Sachs is making some leadership changes at its online banking unit. Esta Stecher, the CEO of GS Bank USA, will become it nonexecutive chairman instead. Stephen Scherr will succeed Stecher as the CEO. Scherr also will retain his job as Goldman Sachs' chief strategy officer.

… And Is a Laggard in Female Leadership Overall: Women make up about 21% of senior officials at Goldman Sachs, and about 37% of the U.S. staff overall, according to a company report. The national average for female senior officials in the finance and insurance sector is 29%. In the midlevel ranks, women make up 26% of Goldman employees compared to the national average of 48%. (You may recall that, in November, Goldman said a quarter of the 425 people promoted to managing director were women, the highest percentage in the firm's history.)

Patience Will Pay Off: Some institutional investors are willing to place bets on struggling banks at a time when others are planning their exit strategies. But they need to be patient, says Jan Hollar, who came out of retirement to be chief executive of HCSB Financial in Loris, S.C. A bank's recovery "doesn't happen overnight just because you got a wire of capital," she says. "It takes a while to change expectations." The long-struggling HCSB recently got an infusion of new capital led by Castle Creek and brought on new executives like Hollar, who is optimistic about its prospects. "This bank's problem was its capital, not its ability to be profitable going forward," Hollar says.

Mix, Mingle, Mentor in Chicago: Kim Butler Hegedus, a managing director at The PrivateBank in Chicago, has created an informal mentoring group for women in banking and finance called Financial Executive Women. Is there really a need? Hegedus says there is. "I still go to meetings where I'm the only female in a group of 30 men," she says. She got the idea for the group when a female job candidate asked her how she has survived the industry for as long as she has. The group has about 16 members so far, split evenly between experienced professionals and younger mentees.

Role Call

Fifth Third Bancorp has hired Citigroup's Melissa Stevens to the newly created position of chief digital officer and head of omnichannel banking. Stevens was most recently chief operating officer for the Citi FinTech unit.

Regions Financial in Birmingham, Ala., has appointed Kate Randall Danella to lead its private wealth management group. Danella joined the bank last year in a wealth-management-related strategy role.

Louise Walker, the president and CEO of First Northern Bank in Dixon, Calif., has become chair of the California Bankers Association for the 2016-17 term.

In Case You Missed It

Culture Gurus: Umpqua Bank in Portland, Ore., Bell State Bank & Trust in Fargo, N.D., and online lender Kabbage all have chief culture officers charged with keeping employees engaged and creating a positive workplace environment. Umpqua's Marty Dickinson says the bank considers its culture to be a point of differentiation, and executives at the other companies echoed her point of view, saying it makes sense to have someone dedicated to overseeing such an important aspect of the business.

Beyond Banking

Executive Pay Rank: Leaving Wall Street for Silicon Valley is working out well for Ruth Porat. The former Morgan Stanley chief financial officer is now the second-most highly paid female executive in the country, according to the Bloomberg Pay Index. The index lists 17 women among the 200 top-paid executives at companies that trade on U.S. exchanges. The top-paid woman is Safra Catz, co-CEO of Oracle, who received $56.9 million and $10.5 million in special equity awards. No. 2 Porat, now the CFO of Google's Alphabet, received $41.1 million in awarded compensation, including a $5 million sign-on bonus. GM CEO Mary Barra was third with $36.3 million awarded pay.

The Stubborn Pay Gap: The Wall Street Journal examined 446 occupations and found women in "elite" jobs show the widest earnings gaps when compared with their male counterparts. Half of the 10 major occupation groups where women's earnings lagged were in finance. Among personal financial advisers, men made about $100,000 while women made just $62,000, the research showed. While some of the gender pay gap can be attributed to factors such as women taking time off to raise children, researchers said about one-third of the gap can't be explained so easily and could be indicative of discrimination. The gap has become a big issue in corporate boardrooms, state capitols and the 2016 presidential campaign.

The application period for our Most Powerful Women in Banking and Finance program is now open, but the submission deadline is approaching.

Check out our Women in Banking page and join our LinkedIn group. (You can find the group by doing a search for "American Banker — Women in Banking" on LinkedIn.)