For the better part of five years as the chief executive of the cosmetics giant Avon Products, Sheri McCoy battled collapsing sales, a plunging stock price, a bribery scandal in China and the constant drumbeat of an attack from an activist investor.

On Thursday, Avon announced that Ms. McCoy would step down and that it had started the search for her successor.

The day before, Irene Rosenfeld, the chief executive of the Oreo cookie maker Mondelez International, announced her plans to retire later this year. In June, Marissa Mayer resigned as chief executive of Yahoo after it was acquired by Verizon Communications. Like Ms. McCoy, they, too had faced pressure from activist investors….

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