The new chief of the Sex Discrimination Commission has her sights on the mining, legal, and retail industries.

The Commission, now led by Anna Cody, is gearing up to enforce employers' obligation to actively prevent sexual harassment starting December 12, a result of the groundbreaking Respect@Work report by her predecessor, Kate Jenkins.

Cody says that larger corporations would face more stringent standards in fulfilling their duty compared to smaller businesses due to their greater resources.

“We are keen to see lead in this area - retail, where there’s a higher incidence of sexual harassment and sex-based discrimination, the legal profession and mining,” she said. 

She stressed that a proportional approach would be taken, with higher expectations for large organisations given their greater knowledge and capacity for education and leadership.

Cody, herself a lawyer and former dean of Western Sydney University's law school, highlighted that law firms, given their expertise in discrimination and harassment laws, would face even greater expectations.

The Commission has outlined several standards employers must meet to fulfil their positive duty, including demonstrating leadership, fostering a positive culture, rewarding positive behaviour, educating staff, and implementing risk management and reporting strategies.

Additionally, four overarching principles of consultation with staff, gender equality, intersectionality, and person-centred, trauma-informed approaches must guide these standards.

Beyond addressing sexual harassment, Cody aims to tackle issues faced by the LGBTIQ+ community and explore complex gender identities. 

She plans to prioritise marginalised groups and First Nations women and girls during her tenure, drawing from her experience in western Sydney.

Cody also expressed a commitment to address low-income challenges faced by women and girls by collaborating with businesses and unions to improve income, wages, and working conditions.