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Breakthrough: transforming into an inclusive organisation

Breakthrough: Transform into an inclusive organisation

Starts 13 July 2021


For Chief Executives (CEOs) and their Senior Management Teams (SMTs) to make their organisations truly inclusive for the long-term.

This structured programme brings CEOs and SMTs together to transform their organisations, with a whole-team approach to inclusivity.

Inclusivity encompasses programming, talent development, workforce, communication, monitoring, measurement, leadership and governance. It is about identifying who is under-represented or excluded and which communities are under-served, and taking action to address this.

Previously, organisations have come to Breakthrough because they were stuck, for reasons including:

  • Fear – of getting it (publicly) wrong
  • Inertia – inability to get things moving, or to get change to stick
  • Time – wanting to be inclusive but not being able to achieve without an external focus and timeline
  • Lack of knowledge – not knowing where to start
  • Overwhelm – it feels too big and difficult

All previous participants knew inclusivity was important to their organisation – and Breakthrough helped unlock the changes needed to move forward. 

You will get :

  • 1:1 mentor support, online peer learning and content sessions
  • A comprehensive review of how to develop your specific organisation’s processes and structures through:
    • Your context, vision, goals for and plan for inclusivity
    • Your leadership journey
    • Your customer / audience journey
    • Your recruitment journey
  • A supportive 12 month programme structured around 4 modules that are essential to the future of your organisation

As a result you’ll gain:

  • A deep understanding of what equality, diversity, inclusion and belonging (EDIB) mean for your organisation
  • Clear goals for your work in EDIB
  • A plan for how and where to make change and put what you’ve learned into practice
  • A foundation from which to move towards becoming an inclusive and diverse organisation

Inclusivity is more important than ever. Inclusive organisations are often more sustainable and successful at engaging and retaining stakeholders – from employees, through to audiences.

Breakthrough can also help support your work towards the culture changes required by Arts Council England’s Inclusivity & Relevance funding principle.

Image of Mel Larsen

Trainer: Mel Larsen

Ishreen Bradley resized

Trainer: Ishreen Bradley

The Starting Point

Breakthrough begins by helping you articulate and define what your specific organisation wants to do or be – and the problems you face.  Then takes you through a process to get the tools so you can understand what you need to do, and how to do it in a meaningful and sustainable way.

Breakthrough provides a safe space to explore what Equality, Diversity, Inclusivity and Belonging (EDIB) means for your organisation. Our coaches help you identify and face the difficult questions while supporting you and your team, encouraging curiosity and openness, and inspiring confidence to tackle tough issues and move forward.

The programme is designed to provide structure and accountability, focused on getting your organisation to where it needs to be, and taking your team there together. The process is experiential, iterative, and tailored to your specific context.

The 4 modules of the programme work together to deliver the transformational change that you, your team, and your organisation needs to achieve.


Breakthrough consists of webinars, peer-learning, and mentoring sessions, to be attended by CEOs together with their SMT.

There are 4 modules, which build on each other over a 12 month period. Each module contains 3 elements, taking place one per month, with mentoring running alongside.

In the first month of each module, you take part in an online learning session. You then get the opportunity to put the learning into practice and come back together with your peer group in the second month to review progress and share challenges. In the third month, the module rounds off with reflection and planning, oriented around specific outcomes and goals.

Alongside this, the programme is supported by mentoring sessions . Each CEO will get 5 x 1 hour on2-to-on3 mentoring sessions with one of our trainers. You will also get 4 x 1 hour collective mentoring sessions for CEOs and SMTs together, to support you in taking your progress as far as you can.

“It’s given us the opportunity to really examine what happens in our organisation and given us the momentum to achieve the kind of goals that we want to achieve and get to the place where we want our organisation to be”

Linda, Head of People, Square Chapel Arts Centre, Halifax

Module 1: Setting your context

Module 1 sets out the foundation from which to begin, making sure that everyone is clear on what Equality, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging means for your organisation. You may decide that you want to focus on specific elements of EDIB, for instance, antiracism.

We will look at how your organisation may attract or exclude people based on different characteristics – different sex or gender identities, different socio-economic backgrounds, different racial backgrounds, different abilities or disabilities. We’ll also look at intersectionality – how these different characteristics can overlap and what that means for your organisation.

Having reflected on this, you’ll then undertake a benchmarking exercise to identify any blind-spots and areas of strength, to help focus your work.

From this, you will identify your vision of what your fully transformed, fully committed to EDIB organisation looks like. You’ll set specific goals for what you want to achieve through the rest of the Breakthrough programme – and for the longer-term too.

Module 1: 

1. Introduction and key concepts around Equality, Diversity, Inclusivity and Belonging

2. EDIB benchmarking – the 8 categories in your organisation, and where your focus should be

3. Vison & Goals: creating goals for the rest of Breakthrough – and the longer term beyond


1.30pm-3pm 13 July 2021

1.30pm-3pm 10 Aug 2021

1.30pm-3pm 14 Sept 2021

Module 2: Your leadership journey

In this module, as CEO and SMT together, you’ll look at how you can responsibly steward your privilege as a leader in defining the culture of your organisation.

You’ll also explore how other privileges you may hold, by having or identifying with protected characteristics that are not under-represented in society, can intersect with this leadership role.

From this point of understanding, you can understand what biases may be at play, within yourself and your organisation, and begin to identify and remove blocks to an inclusive culture. The module invites you to reflect on the structure and processes within your organisational culture and how you can strategically build new ways of working that support an inclusive approach.

This module create an awareness of how inclusion must be consciously built in to everything you do, and help you start planning how to embed this in your organisation.

Module 2: 

4. Removing blocks to EDIB

5. Strategy: Developing an inclusive culture

6. Conscious inclusion and challenges arising


1.30pm-3pm 12 Oct 2021

1.30pm-3pm 9 Nov 2021

1.30pm-3pm 14 Dec 2021

Module 3: Your customer journey

Customers are extremely skilled at seeing through the inauthentic and tokenistic. A poorly thought-through strategy can unravel swiftly.

Your customers include your audiences, your stakeholders, and your internal customers (employees). To be an ally to your audiences, you need to understand how to do that in in a way that makes sense to them, and is consistent with your wider culture and operations.

This module looks at key touchpoints of the customer experience: how to find audiences, how to engage them, from first contact through to engagement and repeat visits. Particular attention is paid to which audiences you may be excluding, and how to avoid microaggressions and challenge preconceptions to be more inclusive.

Module 3:

7. Allyship: Awareness, priorities and effectiveness

8. Strategy: Developing your customer journey

9. Key challenges and developing solutions


1.30pm-3pm 11 Jan 2022

1.30pm-3pm 8 Feb 2022

1.30pm-3pm 8 Mar 2022

Module 4: Your recruitment journey

In this module we look at how your organisation can be more inclusive for the people working within it, as well as the people who might potentially work within in. This is also about making sure that your structures and processes are fair and enable your staff to progress.

How and where might you be excluding people? Whose views are listened to in your organisation? Which people feel safe sharing their views? How are opportunities allocated?

By building your awareness of the factors at play in your own organisation, you can prioritise which obstacles need to be addressed and plan how to make your organisation a more inclusive place to work, and a place where all your team feel they belong.

Upon completion of this module, your Breakthrough journey will be complete. You’ll leave having made changes to the way your organisation does things, and with a clear plan for how to continue the work and maintain your long-term commitment to being an inclusive and relevant organisation.

Module 4: 

10. Privilege: awareness, priorities and effectiveness

11. Strategy: Developing your organisation’s recruitment journey

12. Review & celebration


1.30pm-3pm 12 Apr 2022

1.30pm-3pm 10 May 2022

1.30pm-3pm 14 Jun 2022

Register for Breakthrough

Breakthrough takes place over 12 months, from July 2021 – June 2022. It requires a commitment to attend a monthly session from both CEO and SMT. All sessions are delivered online (mentoring sessions may be delivered by telephone if appropriate).

Breakthrough is a focused programme with professional experts coaching you through transformational change, and covers over 20 hours of support and learning.

The programme is subsidised by Arts Council England and is available for £750+VAT for organisations based in England. If your organisation is based outside of England and you wish to take part, please contact to discuss options.

Sold Out — join the waiting list

This year’s programme has now sold out, but if you’d like to be added to our waiting list, please contact

Your Breakthrough coaches

You will be expertly guided and supported on your journey by:

  • Ishreen Bradley, Chief Inspiration Officer, Belonging Pioneers

Ishreen is a Strategic Pioneer who guides professional leaders to navigate complex situations and achieve success with clarity, confidence and courage. Her focus is to cultivate mindsets and cultures that acknowledge valuable difference, inclusive behaviours and authentic leadership.

Ishreen has worked with: Aon, Lloyds of London, Barclays, Standard Chartered Bank, Fidelity, Rawlinson Hunter, The Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera Company, Soho Theatre, Cambridge University Museum, The Grand Hotel Brighton, BP and Pfizer. Drawing on her 30+ years of running transformational projects around the world, Ishreen impacts leaders to create and implement inspirational strategies that engage their teams – resulting in increased psychological safety, connection and value.

  • Mel Larsen, Independent Marketing Consultant, Mel Larsen & Associates

Mel has worked in the arts across the UK and abroad for over 30 years. As an independent audience development Consultant & Coach her clients have included Arts Council England, Australian Arts Council, CARIFORUM, The British Council, Still Art Sweden and MLA London.

She is the author of ‘A Guide to working with Arts Ambassadors’ published by Arts Council England and co-author of ‘Open Up: museums for everyone’ published by a collection of UK museums funders


We have used all of the exercises that we covered on the programme with our own staff at our staff share days and so we found this incredibly useful… we have new tools (such as our breakthrough plan) which we can develop on an annual basis to continue the work that we are doing.
Laura Keogh, HR Director, Brighton Dome & Festival Ltd.

“It’s been a really inspiring and thought-provoking process…  It’s given us the confidence to celebrate the things we do and shout a bit louder about the things we do. Don’t be phased by the challenges… I found the team so supportive and understanding when we’ve hit hurdles.”

Linda Parker, Head of People, Square Chapel Arts Centre, Halifax

 I truly feel we’ve made a good start on our ‘breakthrough’ and I have learned a lot from this process… it will take everyone in the organisation to live and breathe the
values and for thinking about EDI in all decisions to become second nature.
There’s a lot of work still to do but thanks to this programme with AMA, I’m
actually looking forward to giving it a go.

Chris Blythe, CEO, Leeds Grand Theatre & Opera House