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ONR publishes its sixth gender pay report

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has today published its Gender Pay Report for 2022.

Analysis has shown a small 1.8% increase in our gender pay gap during the last 12 months, from 25.3% to 27.1%.

The overall figure has fallen by 5.8% since we first reported our data in 2017.

Despite positive reductions during the last five years in our gender pay gap, this year’s increase indicates that ONR has more work to do to attract and retain female employees, especially at the higher paid levels.

Why does ONR report on the gender pay gap?

As a public sector organisation, ONR is required to publish its gender pay gap results against six indicators of gender pay equality.

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.

ONR is committed to continue making the organisation a rewarding place to work.

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 it is 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 only 23% of the UK-based workforce is female.

Overall, ONR employs a higher percentage of men (65%) than women (35%), and the proportion of men employed within the senior grades (Bands 1–3) is significantly greater at 75%, 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.

What is ONR doing to reduce its gender pay gap?

ONR remains committed to improving diversity at all levels and, as an inclusive employer, to address the issues highlighted through gender pay gap analysis.

Our current initiatives include:

  • Launching degree-level apprenticeships in Nuclear Engineering and Science to provide a new talent pipeline;
  • Promoting STEM subjects and career opportunities for women through activities in local schools and the STEM Ambassadors programme;
  • Introducing a Reverse Mentoring for Inclusivity programme, which has provided the opportunity for senior leaders to hear first-hand about lived experiences, particularly where individuals have been impacted by discrimination or exclusion;
  • Using anonymous recruitment and gender-neutral wording throughout the job application process, assembling gender-balanced interview panels where possible and including an HR professional in selection panels;
  • Removing length-of-service pay progression and introducing competence-based pay progression that rewards attainment at all levels; and
  • Working with other organisations including the Nuclear Skills Strategy Group, Women in Nuclear, the Environment Agency and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, both to raise our profile externally as an employer of choice for women and to drive positive change across the nuclear sector.

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

Currently, 35% of ONR employees are women, moving closer to the target set jointly by industry and government in the Nuclear Sector Deal of 40% women in the industry by 2030.

There are now equal numbers of women and men at ONR’s two most senior grades, and 24% of all ONR senior management roles are held by women.

The pilot of ONR’s reverse mentoring programme was well-received by participants and a second cohort of mentors have joined this year to bring a new perspective to senior decision-making.

To date, 37% of the ONR-sponsored participants in the industry-wide Nuclear Graduates training programme have been women, and 12 women have subsequently joined as technical specialists through this route, including one in 2022. In addition, three of our five Nuclear Engineering degree apprentices are female.

Dave Caton, ONR’s Director of Human Resources, said: “We are committed to creating a rewarding and engaging culture for all our employees, and diversity and inclusion are a key in realising this goal.

“We recognise that we continue to have a gender pay gap and we have more work to do to address it.

“We remain fully committed, at all levels of ONR, to building a workforce that is reflective of the society we operate in.

“We will continue to put initiatives into practice that further this goal.”