Be Part of the 2016 Most Powerful Women Rankings: We are now accepting nominations for the 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking, 25 Women to Watch, 25 Most Powerful Women in Finance, and the Top Teams in Banking. We are also looking for candidates for the community impact award and the lifetime achievement award. Get your application in quickly to win two tickets to our Mentor Factor event on May 2. More than 300 women already have signed up to participate in a day of career-focused insight and inspiration. We'd love for you to join!

New Parental Benefits for Yet Another Bank: Wells Fargo is going to start offering its full- and part-time U.S. employees paid parental leave for the first time, as of June 1. Primary caregivers can take up to 16 weeks paid leave, following a birth or adoption. (As you may recall from reading here, Bank of America announced in March that it would increase paid parental leave to 16 weeks from 12 weeks.)

The Pros and Cons for Moms: New research by the Working Mother Research Institute shows moms working in financial services have higher salaries than moms in other industries, though not by much. The moms in financial services also are the most in need of more family time. The median annual income of $47,410 in financial services is not significantly higher than the median of $46,470 in professional services like accounting. About 30% of the moms in manufacturing reported having fully paid maternity leave (vs. 29% in financial services), and they received a median of 7.4 weeks off, compared with 8.6 weeks in financial services (the highest) and 6.9 weeks in professional services (the lowest). About 55% of moms working in financial services reported they had received a merit raise within the year, followed closely by those in hospitals and health care (53%) and manufacturing (52%). But those in financial services reported the lowest numbers for satisfaction with the amount of time they're able to spend with their children (55%) and with the amount of time they have for taking care of themselves (38%).

(Climate) Change Begins in the Boardroom: Newton Investment Management chief executive Helena Morrissey will spearhead the United Nations-backed Two Degrees of Change initiative, which will encourage women in boardrooms to demand companies take more action against climate change issues. New business strategies around climate change would benefit shareholders, and women are just the ones to raise such issues, Morrissey said. "Women are often interested in these areas more than men, and interested in a long-term view," she said. "Many women find themselves working within an established culture at old-fashioned companies."

From Eight Weeks to Just Milliseconds: Most banks, including the Royal Bank of Canada, are experimenting with blockchain technology for B2B applications. But RBC also has a unique initiative underway with its credit card loyalty programs to explore how the blockchain can improve the customer experience. Points earned from credit card purchases now take up to eight weeks to reflect in the customer's account, and RBC is looking to speed that up. It is working with several partners, one of which claims its permissioned blockchain can settle transactions in milliseconds, on real-time exchange for merchant partners and consumers. "There's never going to be a more exciting time for our clients if we do this well and take advantage of this technology," said Linda Mantia, RBC's executive vice president of digital, cards and payments.

A Big Conundrum: Wall Street's gender bias is a reflection of society's gender bias, but both are illogical from a performance perspective, writes Amy Domini, founder of Domini Social Investments and partner in The Sustainability Group. Women are not trusted to run portfolios – research shows only 10% of all U.S. mutual fund managers are women – even though they are as good at it, and by some measures better at it, than men, says Domini. And Main Street is just as bad as Wall Street apparently. Research by behavioral scientists cites customer prejudice as the reason male-managed funds in their study saw, on average, 15.6% higher flows than women-owned funds, despite no difference in performance. The expectation is that women will deliver a lower rate of performance, according to the study. (Women who think strong performance speaks for itself, take note.)

Role Call

Ranjana Clark has been named San Francisco Bay Area president at MUFG Union Bank. Clark, who is on our list of the Most Powerful Women in Banking, adds the president role to her existing responsibilities as the head of transaction banking for the Americas.

USAA in San Antonio, Texas, has hired Jennifer Sepull, a former Kimberly-Clark executive, as its chief information officer.

First Midwest Bank in Itasca, Ill., has hired Jo Ann Boylan as chief information and operations officer. She was previously chief technology officer of MB Financial in Chicago.

Fifth Third Bancorp has named its lead independent director, Marsha Williams, as its new chairman. She has been on its board since 2008.

In Case You Missed It

How to Win Over the Buzzkills at Your Meeting: When negativity threatens to stall progress, some surprisingly simple "little tricks" can help resolve conflict and get employees more engaged, according to Michelle Stacy, who spoke at a recent Women in Banking conference hosted by the Pennsylvania Bankers Association. She argued that employee engagement drives productivity, profitability and overall success more than anything else. Skimping on such a powerful boost to the bottom line doesn't make sense. Yet research shows more than 60% of workers across industries rate themselves as "not engaged" or "actively disengaged," and many companies seem unconcerned, said Stacy, the former president of Green Mountain's Keurig division. "If you were in manufacturing and were to say 60% of the raw materials you put into a product were not being used, it would be waste, right?" she asked, as she offered a few suggestions for bringing more positivity to challenging conversations.

Woman on a Mission: Though she is not well known, Phyllis Borzi is the powerhouse behind the proposed rule that would require financial advisers to prioritize clients' interests above their own. The Labor Department isn't usually involved in investment advice, but the 69-year-old assistant labor secretary has made it her mission to right what she sees as a wrong: that many women are ill-prepared for retirement despite having long careers. Borzi concluded that something must be flawed for this to happen. Her persistence has won her enemies and allies in the brokerage industry and on the Hill, but those on both sides of the debate praise her determination.

Beyond Banking

Female Founders: How do we improve gender diversity in Silicon Valley? Start with the founders, says PayPal cofounder Peter Thiel. "What really defines the culture in Silicon Valley is not the executives or the venture capitalists," he said, "it's the company founders and that's probably the place where the disparity is the most extreme and that's where it needs to be fixed if you want to change the culture." He cited a list of 150 unicorn companies, of which two had female cofounders. "That's a crazy lack of balance," he said. Incidentally, Thiel just hired Cyan Banister to be the first female partner at his venture capital firm Founders Fund.

Emphasis on "Empowerment": The word "empowerment" has been trivialized, and women's empowerment initiatives increasingly look suspicious, as they become entwined with ad campaigns and $10,000-a-ticket conferences, writes Jia Tolentino in a New York Times Magazine essay, titled "How 'Empowerment' Became Something for Women to Buy." She wonders, is all this "empowerment" disempowering to women?

Bonnie McGeer contributed to this report.