Office for Nuclear Regulation

ONR publishes seventh gender pay report

4 December, 2023

The Office for Nuclear Regular (ONR) has published its Gender Pay Report for 2023.

Analysis has shown that the gender pay gap during the last 12 months has remained at a similar level at 27.3%.

While the overall figure has fallen by 5.8% since we first started reporting our data in 2017, ONR recognises that there is more progress to be achieved and is working to attract more female employees into the organisation and retain those already here.

Why does ONR report on the gender pay gap?

As a public sector organisation, ONR is required by The Equalities Act 2010 to publish its gender pay gap results against six prescribed indicators of gender pay equality.

It is committed to putting in place actions to improve gender diversity at all levels, reduce the gender pay gap, and over time, eradicate it.

Sharing this data is important as it demonstrates ONR’s work towards achieving more diversity and inclusion, putting commitments to openness and transparency into practice.

This aligns with ONR’s organisational values of being fair, open-minded, supportive and accountable and runs in parallel with the strategic theme of ‘Creating a culture of inclusion and excellence’, as described in our Strategy 2020–25.

Why does ONR have a gender pay gap?

The gender pay gap is different to equal pay, which is the legal requirement that men and women are paid equally for doing the same job under the Equality Act 2010.

Following analysis across pay bands, technical specialisms and corporate functions, ONR is confident that the current gender pay gap does not reflect an equal pay issue.

Instead, it reflects the demographic mix of the workforce and the historical legacy of the industry from which many of ONR’s inspectors are drawn.

A lower proportion of women work in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, and this is especially pronounced in the nuclear sector, where past figures showed that only 23% of the UK-based workforce is female.

Now, ONR employs a higher percentage of men (63%) than women (37%). The proportion of men employed in higher grades (Bands 1-3) is significantly greater at 74%, with more men in technical roles towards the top of the pay scales due to longer service.

In the short term, this disparity will continue to be a contributing factor in ONR’s gender pay gap but figures show an improving picture due to our ongoing work.

What is ONR doing to reduce its gender pay gap?

ONR’s current initiatives include:

  • Diversity & Inclusion and How to be a Good Ally training available for all colleagues;
  • Female representation on recruitment selection panels;
  • A partnership with VERCIDA, a careers site that works with employers who respect a culture of inclusivity, diversity and accessibility and are committed to these values;
  • A revised and refreshed flexible working policy, ‘Balancing Your Hours’, is designed to enable all staff to achieve a healthier work/life balance and to make sure ONR  continues to build an increasingly inclusive culture. The organisation believes that adopting more flexible working arrangements is another key step to ONR attracting and retaining female employees;
  • Partnerships across the sector working with The Nuclear Skills Strategy Group (NSSG), to ensure ONR promotes opportunities for female students to explore maths and science throughout primary and secondary school and encourage them to pursue career paths in STEM;
  • Working to broaden the career route into the sector with initiatives such as ONR’s Nuclear Degree Apprenticeship programme; and
  • Promoting STEM career opportunities for women through our participation in activities in local schools and the STEM Ambassadors programme.

What successes has ONR had so far in reducing its gender pay gap?

The gender split of the organisation improved year on year since 2017; 37% of staff are women, representing progress against the target set jointly by industry and government of 40% women in the industry by 2030.

There has also been an increase in women in senior management positions, from 22% to 24%. The Board is now 71% female, and 60% of degree apprentices are women.

During 2022-23, 56% of new starters were women and 46% of new recruits within  technical roles were women, a positive yardstick when compared with the current STEM talent pipeline for such roles.

ONR is starting to see positive results in terms of female recruitment and career progression within the organisation; 42% of women were promoted in 2022-23, a  favourable indicator when compared with ONR’s overall female workforce, demonstrating that women are well represented in terms of promotions to a higher grade.

Dave Caton, ONR’s Director of Human Resources, said: “The benefits of having a diverse and inclusive organisation are already well known and evidenced, and our focus now is creating the building blocks for the future.

“This is a long-term task, and we are confident that we have put steps in place to continue the positive impact of our outreach, recruitment, training and wider diversity and inclusion initiatives alongside support to tackle any barriers to career progression.

“We recognise that we have a gender pay gap and we are implementing actions to improve it.”