Sixteen top US advertising agency executives have been summoned to Human Rights Commission hearings examining the industry's record of hiring minority staff.

Among those having received subpoenas to appear at the public hearings in New York - at the same time as Advertising Week in September - are DDB ceo Chuck Brymer, Saatchi & Saatchi New York ceo Mary Baglivo and Ogilvy's co-ceo North America Bill Gray.

The topic, which the commission has been exploring for almost two years, has been reportedly high on the industry's agenda, but critics have complained not enough is being done to diversify agencies' staffs.

After the hearings a report will be written based on the findings and "appropriate action" will be taken, though so far no agency has been sued for discrimination.

Figures show that in 1968, the last time the commission investigated the issue, of 40 agencies, black employees represented 3.5% of total employment. At the 16 agencies currently in the spotlight, 9% of all employees are black. New York City's population is 25% black.

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff