Avon Products announced this week that CEO Sherilyn McCoy would step down at the end of next March after six years in the top position at the beauty products manufacturer and direct-marketer. According to the New York Times, McCoy’s departure was the result of investor pressure to change course after a series of disappointing financial reports:
Barington Capital Group and NuOrion Partners called on Avon Products’ board of directors earlier this year to replace Ms. McCoy as poor results weighed on its stock price. Media reports first emerged in June that Ms. McCoy, who has been the top executive at Avon since 2012, was expected to leave the company.
Avon Products on Thursday reported a net loss of $45.5 million in the second quarter — its third consecutive quarterly loss. The company also said that its revenue fell by 3 percent. Its share price has fallen 40 percent this year. The company said that its board had retained the executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles to assist in finding Ms. McCoy’s successor.
The news at Avon comes at a time when institutional investors are taken on an increasingly active role in shaping management and strategy at the companies of which they own shares, pushing for change in financial priorities as well as organizational culture and talent strategies, and demanding the ouster of CEOs whose performance does not meet their expectations.
Part of what makes McCoy’s departure from Avon noteworthy is that she is among a very limited number of women at the helm of a major corporation. Furthermore, as the Times‘ Julie Creswell remarks, she’s the latest in a string of women CEOs who have been pressured to resign by activist investors: